(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A rescue German Shepherd is being hailed a hero after saving his 7-year-old owner from a rattlesnake behind the family's home in Tampa.
The DeLuca family had just rescued 2-year-old Haus two months ago, but that didn't stop him from risking his life to stand between Molly and an eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which is considered the most venomous species of snake in North America.
Molly was picking up dog toys in the family's small yard with Haus by her side, when her grandmother saw him jumping around frantically, Molly's mom, Donya DeLuca, told ABC News.
The grandmother, who was standing in the doorway of the family's screened-in pool, saw Haus jumping forward and snapping back three times. When she walked toward them to check it out, she realized a snake had approached them, DeLuca said.
But "Haus stood his ground," DeLuca said, getting between Molly and the snake.
The family later discovered that each time Haus snapped back, he was being bitten by the snake.
When DeLuca received the call from her mother, she could hear Molly crying hysterically in the background. She met them at an emergency veterinarian nearby -- Haus was still walking, but limping badly, with blood "pouring" out of his leg, DeLuca said.
Minutes later, Haus' condition had worsened drastically, DeLuca said. He was drooling excessively and couldn't pick his head up. DeLuca said she could see in his chest he was having trouble breathing.
Doctors initially thought Haus had only been bitten once, because the typical instinct for dogs is to flee. It wasn't until they shaved down his fur that they realized he was bitten three times on his right front leg, just below the elbow.
DeLuca credits her 68-pound family dog with saving her daughter's life.
"If it were Molly, who's smaller, I don't know that she would have made it," DeLuca said. "He was willing to give his life for our family."
Haus acclimated to the family immediately after they brought him home, DeLuca said, calling him a "fan favorite" in their close-knit neighborhood. He was even a saving grace for the couple's 9-year-old Golden Retriever, Chloe, who became depressed and stopped eating after their previous German Shepherd mix named Bailey died.
"It's serendipity," DeLuca said. "[Haus] was meant to be our dog."
Haus received a total of nine vials of anti-venom to combat the snake bites, DeLuca said, saying it took some time for the neurotoxin to work. Doctors have decided to give him a continuous drip of the anti-venom, rather than give him doses, DeLuca said. His internal organs are fine, but he'll need a blood transfusion, she said.
"Now, he's just fighting for his life," DeLuca said, adding that she became "hopeful" once doctors told her Haus may be moved out of the ICU next week.
DeLuca and her husband, Adam, have lived in their Tampa home for about 10 years, she said. While it's normal to see an occasional snake in Florida, she'd never encountered a rattlesnake before, she said, adding that she believes the road construction near her home has disturbed them.
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