“Get ’em, Leon!” were the words that spurred on a courageous act by a family dog in Harrison County, Mississippi.
Leon the dog was being sent after two armed, masked men who invaded the home of his owner, Theresa Lero.
It was around 7 a.m. on March 21, and Theresa had just come in from feeding their horses. According to the Star-Telegram, her husband Brickford Lero was still asleep.
“The dog came trotting down the hall growling at the door and I said, ‘What is it, Leon?'”
Theresa, a nurse, said that she went to see what the dog was growling at.
“I went over to the window to look at the door and facing me in my pass-through window was a man in a ski mask with a gun. I said, ‘What?’ Then I said, ‘Out!'”
But the two armed men came in, while a third waited outside by the car. Theresa ran into her bedroom, calling to her husband to wake up. She grabbed her gun and said, “Get ’em Leon!” and she and her dog ran after the men.
Heroic Dog Takes Bullet To Save Family During Brazen Home Invasion Robbery – https://t.co/MPpVRCYevL pic.twitter.com/6uusI0gPqi
— Fido4Ever (@fido4e) March 28, 2016
Theresa’s gun was loaded, but there was no bullet in the chamber.
“They shot at me and I just went clickety, clickety click.”
She said one bullet whizzed past her right, one past her left and one hit her dog.
She screamed at the men. “You shot my dog. I’ll kill you myself!”
Leon the dog kept running, according to wdam.com. The men fired back at him as they were running away, but the plucky red pit bull cross didn’t stop chasing them.
After the criminals left, the Leros rushed their dog to a veterinary clinic in Woolmarket.
“He seemed alert so I figured he couldn’t have a bullet in his brain. He actually walked into the ER. I said, ‘How many gunshot wound to the head victims walk into the ER?'”
The bullet had skidded across his skull. The emergency veterinarian told the Leros that the path of the bullet had made all the difference.
“It’s a wonder he isn’t dead, but if it had been over just a little bit, I’m sure he would have been.”
Leon stayed in the hospital overnight.
Miss. sheriff’s dept. presents certificate of bravery to Leon, dog shot while protecting family in home invasion https://t.co/A53n12rbci
— AVMAvets (@AVMAvets) April 16, 2016
The Leros later learned that the home invasion had been a case of mistaken identity, as the armed intruders were looking for drugs and had targeted a different house. Two were captured after an extensive 10-hour manhunt involving area police and K-9 teams. A third later turned himself in, police said.
The suspects are facing multiple charges, including charges of animal cruelty.
— Darren Kavinoky (@DarrenKavinoky) March 22, 2016
The Leros had rescued Leon from an animal shelter in Vancleave following the death of their previous dog, who had also been a shelter rescue.
When they adopted Leon, now two years old, they thought he was a red-nosed hound, possibly a Redbone Coonhound. They named him Leon Redbone. Since then, they have learned he is likely a red-nosed pit bull.
Leon is quiet and sweet-natured, but he will bark at people until they are introduced. Theresa confessed to having low expectations about the pup.
“I’ve always said since I got him that he wasn’t worth anything. He was just going to be a pet and I was going to get a real dog.
“I guess he showed me. He’s my pet and my real dog.”
On Thursday, Sheriff Troy Peterson called Leon a hero and presented him a framed certificate for bravery.
“In this situation that happened, he saved y’all’s life. He is undoubtedly a hero.”
The certificate honors Leon, “for his courage, bravery and self-sacrifice on March 21, when he protected his family during a home invasion without regard for his own safety. Even after receiving serious wounds during the attack, Leon continued to pursue the criminals, exhibiting a deep love and devotion for his family.”
[Image via Annamarie Young/Shutterstock]