Man’s best friend doubles as a one good bodyguard.
Gudrun Mastriano of Kissimmee, Fla., was walking her daughter’s black lab Dante home when a venomous cottonmouth snake, mere inches away, attacked her.
The protective canine lunged in front of Mastriano, captured the serpent in his mouth and dragged it away. But during the fight, the snake’s fangs sunk into Dante’s snout and legs.
“It could have been me,” said Mastriano. “I would have died.”
Dante’s snout swelled up to about 17 inches as the deadly venom settled in his body, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“I thought he looked like a little baby hippopotamus,” said Mastriano.
Mastriano immediately took the lethargic and injured dog to an emergency animal clinic, where he was stabilized and treated with antivenin before being transferred to another medical center for rehabilitation.
For the past two months, Dante has received oxygen therapy. Veterinarians delivered concentrated oxygen to Dante’s damaged cells seven times to reduce swelling and speed healing, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
Dante, rejuvenated, was ready to be reunited with his owner, Mastriano’s daughter Charlotte Eierle.
Eierle moved to Madrid, where her husband is stationed with the Navy, in September. Eierle only planned to leave Dante behind for a few weeks while she and her husband got situated, but the snake attack delayed his trip abroad.
“We’re just happy to see him healthy and going home for the holidays,” said one of the veterinarians who bid Dante farewell at the airport.
For his flight to Spain, Dante was placed in a pet carrier that bore a notification for careful handling, along with a fitting description: “Traveling Hero.”