A eight-month-old pit bull died as he tried to protect his owner’s children from a vicious snake.
Zeus was bitten four times after running in front of brothers Oriley and Orion outside their family home.
The pair had no idea the coral snake was approaching as the loyal dog leaped in to save them.
The family rushed him to a vets to be treated with anti-venom but he died the next day.
Dad Gary Richardson, from Sumter County, Florida, called Zeus ‘the most loyal dog I know of’ and said he owed his son’s life to him.
Recalling the incident at 6.15pm on Monday, Gary said Zeus was lying down when all of a sudden his eyes looked ‘bugged out’.
He told Fox 35 Orlando: ‘All of a sudden, he started attacking the snake which was close to my son and shaking it around, he was bit four times.’
Zeus’ face started swelling up and the lifeless body of a red, yellow and black snake was shown lying on the floor when he lifted his head.
Gary said it was a ‘traumatic’ experience as he knew the family’s beloved pet was dying.
Mum Georgina Richardson video called the family from the vets so Gary and the children could speak to Zeus.
She said: ‘He kept falling asleep on FaceTime but tried hard to interact and show his human kids and Gary that he will fight this.’
Sadly, he died the following morning at 6.30am and the family gathered around his body with Zeus’ mother Sega to say their goodbyes.
Georgina added: ‘We are beyond broken right now. He gave his life to keep our son safe. I am forever grateful to him.’
Despite their often bad reputation, Gary said pit bulls are ‘the most loyal dog I know of, and I’ve had a lot of different animals in my life’.
His wife said if they display aggressive behaviour ‘most likely, it’s because they weren’t treated right’. She added that she hoped the incident would convince more people to adopt pit bulls, which she described as a “gentle and caring breed”.
The vet treatment cost the family $1,000 (£814), forcing them to set up a fundraising webpage to ask for donations to cover the expenses. They quickly reached their fundraising target.