A Tennessee dog is being hailed as a hero after he put himself between a copperhead snake and his best friend — his family’s 18-month-old son.
As WATE (Knoxville) reports, Shiloh, an Australian Shepherd, belongs to the Holloway family of Sevierville, Tennessee (side note: Sevierville is also the home of Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood). Shiloh and the family’s 18-month-old son, Bryson, have been best of friends forever.
— Local 8 News (@wvlt) August 14, 2016
“They just do everything together. As much as he loves everybody else, those two, the baby and that dog, have a bond.”
Recently, Shiloh and Bryson were outside playing, as they usually do on these hot summer evenings, when Shiloh’s owner, Bryan Holloway, notice some commotion. As Bryson was stepping off the porch, Shiloh started running.
“Shiloh jumped up and took off after him. He lunged right towards the baby and at the baby’s feet, and when he did he kind of jerked back.”
Bryan knew right away that Shiloh had been bitten by a copperhead.
“Turning his head to the side and shaking his head and you could tell he’d been hurt, that the snake had gotten him. As furry as he is, and he has so much fur around his neck, you could visibly see the swelling.”
Fortunately, after a quick trip to the vet — complete with antibiotics and pain medication — Shiloh has recovered and is expected to be fine.
Speaking to WVLT (Knoxville), mom Alicia Holloway says her son is lucky to be alive.
“I honestly don’t think he would be here and I really don’t think we could have made it to the hospital and even if we did, best case scenario would have been a 50/50 fighting chance.”
According to Reptiles Magazine, there are 21 species of venomous snakes in the Unites States, including the copperhead, the coral snake, and the western diamondback rattlesnake. Still, snake bites are relatively rare in the U.S. (a few thousand bites per year), and fatalities even rarer (averaging around five per year). Further, most U.S. hospitals are equipped with antivenin.
As of this writing, the most recent fatal snake bite in the U.S. occurred in June of this year. Wayne Grooms, 71, was a South Carolina soil conservation expert who got bitten by a rattlesnake at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. According to the Charlotte Observer, Grooms died within 15 minutes of being bitten; authorities believe he may have had some other medical condition that exacerbated the severity of the snake bite.
The last child to die of a snake bite in the U.S., as of this writing, was 4-year-old Brayden Bullard. According to the Florida Times-Union, Bullard was at home in the family’s garden in Nassau County when he was bitten by a timber rattlesnake. Even though he was taken to a hospital and given antivenin, Bullard died two weeks after being bitten.
The copperhead snake — the same species that bit Bryson Holloway in Tennessee — is described as being “non-aggressive” except when excited or threatened. Further, the animal has excellent camouflage and can hold perfectly still — making it easy for unwary humans and dogs to step on them.
“The copperhead’s venom is relatively mild and while painful, is very rarely fatal. There is an antivenin that is sometimes used, but mostly, because the potential side-effects are worse than the affliction, treatment is basic and mostly topical.”
Alicia Holloway says that God put her dog between the snake and her son that night.
“We give God the glory in everything, and we know that he used that dog, that wonderful dog, to protect him, and we’re thankful every day for him now.”
[Image via Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens]