(CNN): A Florida family is mourning the loss of their puppy Zeus, who died while protecting two of their four children from a venomous snake.
Oriley Richardson, 10, was playing in his family’s backyard in Webster on September 23 when the 9-month-old pit bull suddenly jumped towards him, his mother Gina Richardson told CNN on Sunday. Oriley noticed the pup attacking something on the ground, but thought it was a rope.
It was a coral snake. And Zeus was doing his best to keep it away from Oriley.
As the dog struggled to keep the snake at bay, Orion, 11, stepped into the backyard to change Zeus’ water.
That’s when Zeus decided to lay down on the snake, using his body weight to smother the deadly predator and prevent it from harming the boys.
Orion noticed that Zeus’ eyes looked “bugged out,” Richardson said. That’s when they turned him over and discovered the snake, which had bitten Zeus four times before he bit off and swallowed its head.
The family rushed Zeus to a nearby animal hospital, where staff immediately administered anti-venom.
Sadly, it was too late. Zeus died the following day — the same day as Oriley’s birthday.