It started innocently enough – 4-year-old Zayden and 1-year-old Mallory were playing in their grandmother’s garden in Brandon, Florida on Sunday.
But a copperhead snake was nearby and, unbeknownst to the grandmother, about to strike. Luckily, she had two pit bulls in the garden with them.
Melissa Butt told News Channel 8 that her two dogs, Slayer and Paco, started insistently barking at the snake before she realized it was there. The snake then struck at them – leaving the kids alone – and Slayer, 3, suffered bites to his face and snout, while 9-month-old Paco was struck in the leg. The two dogs managed to kill the snake.
“They are my boys, my protectors,” Butt told News Channel 8.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Copperhead bites are not usually lethal to fully grown humans, but smaller animals and children can suffer serious repercussions.
“That absolutely would have been one of my grandchildren, whether it be yesterday, today or tomorrow,” Butt told the Tampa Bay Times.
Both dogs were in bad shape when she rushed them to Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners Hospital in Brandon. They were quickly given antivenin, an anti-venom medication, and Paco was soon pronounced stable and on his way home. But Slayer’s bites to his face complicated the procedure, because he couldn’t consume food or oral medication.
Slayer is still being monitored, according to posts Butt made on Facebook as recently as Tuesday night, but the vet said he is expected to fully recover. And thanks to Butt’s social media posts and the kindness of strangers, she won’t even have to worry about the vet bills.
“Frankie’s Friends,” an animal rescue group, soon raised more than $7,000 to pay for the vet bills.
“I can’t express how much our boys mean to us, and to have Slayer in so much pain just breaks my heart,” Butt told Frankie’s Friends. “They’re great, gentle boys who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the grandchildren.”
It is illegal to own a pit bull breed in Miami-Dade County. Those who acquire or keep the breed within the county are subject to a $500 fine and court action to remove the animal.