A Tennessee woman found herself in a pretty terrifying situation earlier this month when she arrived home from work to find a copperhead snake lurking near her front door.
Nashville’s Haley McCormack explained to CBS News affiliate WTVF Channel 5 that she had gotten home after the sun went down, so she didn’t notice the venomous snake lurking in the bushes until she was right upon it.
She immediately recognized that the snake was coiling itself up and preparing to attack. But before the reptile could get McCormack, her pit bull Arlo leapt to her rescue—literally.
Arlo pounced on the copperhead, attacking the snake until it was no longer a threat. Perhaps most impressive, though, was the fact that he kept going after the snake even when it was attacking him back, all in the name of keeping his owner safe.
“It was in this leaf-like area over here, and it was recoiled back so it was going to strike, he got there before I could go any further, he grabbed it by the tail, and then just started kind of shaking it,” McCormack explained, “While he was shaking it, it was biting his face, it got him three times for sure, possibly four.”
He smiles even with a swollen face ❤️ my guardian angel
Copperheads are native to Eastern North America, and they’re among the more venomous snakes that humans can encounter in the United States. Known for their behavior camouflaging themselves in the foliage and waiting for prey, they don’t typically like to interact with humans—but the snake’s tendency to “freeze” rather than slither away can lead to humans accidentally coming near them or even stepping on them.
This can cause the snake to lash out and bite—and although they tend to inflict a warning “dry bite” without venom first, multiple bites can be incredibly painful and include higher doses of the venom. This venom can cause pain, tingling, throbbing, swelling, and severe nausea; while they aren’t typically fatal bites, they certainly aren’t pleasant.
I’ve got your back if you’ve got mine 💕
That risk is doubled for smaller animals, which can suffer far more severe reactions to the snake’s venom. And for Arlo, the reaction to his multiple bites was immediate; his face started to swell, and his owner explained that he had to be treated with antivenom, pain medication, and CBD oil in the immediate aftermath at the BluePearl Pet Hospital in Nashville.
Despite the pain, though, the sweet-natured dog was willing to put himself in the line of fire between a vicious reptile and his owner just to keep his human safe—and she recognizes how incredible that was.
Arlo is going to be just fine, so glad we decided to go to the Emergency Vet!!! Lots of rest and pain meds (and Olive…
“To think how much loyalty and love he had for me, to risk his own life for mine, it’s really special,” McCormack said. “We’re both lucky to have each other for sure.”
At the pet hospital, the veterinarians said that the incident is a warning for other pet owners in the area. After treating 17 pets for copperhead bites in 2018, this was the cautionary tale to make sure that your four-legged friends are kept safe during the late summer and fall—which is the time of year that copperhead eggs typically hatch.
Hopefully, this is Arlo’s last encounter with the snakes. And for McCormack, she’s grateful that both she and her dog are safe and sound—and that it was such an incredible display of love for an animal that she’s clearly given every reason to prove his loyalty for.