Family pets are just that — part of the family. The love shared, and bonds made, between them and their family members are treasured, valued, and irreplaceable. The variety of birds, cats, dogs, hamsters, hermit crabs, and more that I visited when I saw family definitely converted me into an animal lover at an early age! That closeness that many of us feel with the animal kingdom does, however, come at a cost. Sadly, it is often in the most tragic circumstances that we see just how much our pets mean to us, and how much we mean to them. For one Queensland family, this was the case when their beloved shorthair, Arthur, made a heroic sacrifice.
It was an idyllic summer day in Queensland, and Arthur was spending time with his family. Parents were inside, and the two young children were playing in the backyard; he stayed nearby. Unbeknownst to them, however, an eastern brown snake had entered the yard and was hiding low to the ground in the grass. Eastern brown snakes are known for their highly potent venom and combative disposition. In Australia, more than 60% of snake-bite deaths are the result of their paralyzing, heart-stopping venom.
As the children continued to play, the snake readied itself to attack. Suddenly, Arthur leaped into action to fight off the venomous invader and save the lives of his family! A fight broke out, and the family had just enough time to get the two kids to safety. Arthur was able to kill the snake, but collapsed soon after. In the excitement of the moment, however, this was quickly brushed off as exhaustion. Moments later, Arthur was awake, alert, and seemed completely fine. This “collapse event” is actually “a common symptom of snake bites, although not a well-known symptom amongst pet owners,” according to Animal Emergency Service, the Brisbane-based veterinary hospital where Arthur was later taken.
Beneath the surface, however, the snake’s venom had found its mark. The bite that got to Arthur went unnoticed, hidden under his gray fur and upbeat disposition. Within 24 hours, Arthur would collapse again. At Animal Emergency Service, he was known and “very much loved” for his outgoing personality and antics. Sadly, the snake’s venom had run its course, and Arthur passed away shortly after arriving. Brown snake venom is especially deadly to cats and dogs, as it affects their nervous systems and blood flow to a greater degree.
Doubtlessly, Arthur was able to intervene in a deadly situation and save the two kids, trading his life for theirs. Although he wasn’t able to survive the encounter, he was able to protect those closest to him when it mattered most. His death serves as a reminder for those in areas with substantial snake populations to be aware of their presence and to know the signs of potentially deadly snake bites. Arthur was mourned not just by his family, but by the staff at Animal Emergency Service and by thousands on social media, who were quick to label the shorthair a “hero” for his protective response.