Her mother didn’t usually call when she was taking care of the kids, so to hear from her in the middle of the day made her feel like something must have been wrong.
But when she heard her panicked tone – and little Molly crying in the background – she came rushing home as soon as she could. What had that dog done?
Donya DeLuca was heartbroken when her dog of 13 years, Bailey, passed away. The Florida mother-of-three had had the family pet since he was a pup and couldn’t imagine replacing her.
But when she saw that two-year-old German Shepherd Haus needed a home, she quickly changed her tune. Now all she had to do was convince her husband Adam, who had serious reservations about him.
“He looked at me like, ‘Are you serious?’ But I just couldn’t pass up the chance to rescue him,” explained Donya.
Adam still wasn’t sure. Not only did he feel like he hadn’t finished grieving for his previous pet, but he also didn’t know about getting a fully-grown rescue after friends said it wasn’t the best idea when you have young kids… not to mention that Haus was an ex-army dog. And he’d soon regret not listening to them.
But when Adam first laid eyes on Haus, all his reservations evaporated. He instantly fell in love with the German Shepherd and knew his wife was right. They simply had to adopt him.
The children Molly, 7, and Joey, 4, quickly became enamored with the big dog (“Haus” is German for “house”) so he soon felt like they’d made the right decision, which made it difficult to predict the drama ahead.
Haus was a former military dog, so Donya assumed the fact that he always stayed very close to the kids was just what he was used to.
The clingy pooch would even check out the yard before the kids went out to play as if he were scouting ahead. But Donya would soon discover what the dog was really anxious about.
Two months later, Donya felt comfortable enough to let Haus play with the children in the yard while they went to work and left them in the care of their grandmother.
But one afternoon Haus seemed particularly suspicious, doing extra checks of the yard, as if he was looking out to see who was watching.
Molly was playing on the grass when it happened. In reality, the whole incident went down in the blink of an eye, but Donya’s mother said it felt like she was watching it in slow motion.
When she picked up the phone, Donya was suddenly forced to question everything about the dog she’d grown to love as much as her last pet. But she didn’t have the full story.
Donya knew she wouldn’t have been able to get home fast enough to do anything, but she put her foot down as she tried to make sense of her mother’s frantic explanation.
Minutes earlier, Molly was gathering Haus’ toys when looked up to see the giant hound bounding towards her, but it was too late. Haus was in attack mode and there was nothing that could be done to stop it.
Molly’s grandma, as if sensing that something was amiss, glanced out the doorway and was met with a sight he’ll never forget. But before she could make a move to stop it, it was already too late.
Molly was lying still in the grass, pinned by the huge German Shepherd towering over her. She bellowed Haus’ name as he watched in horror.
Haus stood over Molly, teeth bared. Her grandmother was still too far away on the other side of the yard to do anything other than watch what the dog’s next move was.
Molly fell backward onto her backpack as Haus turned. What was he doing? And why was he so fixated on what was in the long grass?
The dog leaped off Molly and lunged forward, his mouth opening with a flash of white as he struck his target, again and again, recoiling after each audible snap of his jaws.
Grandma DeLuca reached the scene as Haus let out a sound that chilled her bones. But she had to get to Molly.
Grandma DeLuca’s mind raced at a million miles a minute as she ran. She had heard of dogs just snapping, but could this have happened to Haus? She couldn’t help but feel like it was all her fault.
She should have been paying more attention. She shouldn’t have let Molly go outside alone. But had they all been so overwhelmed by the loss of Bailey that they had refused to see what kind of dog he really was? Then, she saw it.
A rattlesnake was poised to attack Molly, but its plans were dashed as Haus stood gallantly in front of her. She froze the second she realized the reality of the situation.
Slowly, Molly backed away from the dangerous reptile, not wanting to startle it into attacking. But the snake knew what it wanted and quickly made its move.
Grandma DeLuca had one thing on her mind, and one thing only. She scooped Molly up and ran to safety. She checked her all over until she was satisfied that she was unscathed.
She was surprised to see that there wasn’t a single scratch on the child. But when they turned their attention to Haus, grandma DeLuca screamed.
Molly had just escaped from the most dangerous snake in North America – the eastern diamondback snake. With a heavy, powerful body and long fangs, these rattlesnakes’ bites have a thirty percent chance of being fatal to a human.
Although these snakes are not usually aggressive, this one had had a protective Haus to contend with. Haus had been shielding Molly from the danger and had sacrificed himself. But would he pay the ultimate price?
The snake sank its teeth into Haus’ paw, then again, and again… The kids rushed to Haus’ aid as the scaly aggressor slid away.
Molly walked away from the terrifying situation unscathed, but Haus needed urgent medical attention. When Donya arrived, they put the dog in the car and headed straight for the vet before the venom could take effect.
Haus was treated at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners animal hospital. Due to the injury to his paw, the poor pooch couldn’t walk without stumbling.
Vets immediately began emergency snakebite treatment on the brave dog. But when the rest of the family arrived shortly afterward, all they could do was wait. Molly looked on in tears as Haus was tended to, desperately hoping for him to pull through.
The vet on duty delivered some startling news. He informed the family that Haus had been bitten three times by the rattlesnake, which had flooded his body with a triple dose of deadly venom.
He explained that, usually, a dog will retreat after the first bite. But because Haus was fighting for Molly he stood his ground. Vets had to administer a total of nine doses of anti-venom via a drip, as well as a blood transfusion. Then, an unavoidable complication arose for the DeLuca family.
As Haus’ life hung in the balance, the vet bills began to grow exponentially – too much for the family to afford. But they were determined to do everything they could for the dog who had risked his life for their daughter.
They created a GoFundMe account to try to raise the funds for Haus’ treatment, with a $28,000 goal to cover his medical expenses. But would anybody respond?
“I just want to pet him,” Molly said of the hero dog that probably saved her life. “Because if he plays, he might get hurt.”
Fortunately, the vet is confident that Haus will make a full recovery. But the family never expected such an outpouring of love and support from Haus’ GoFundMe campaign.
Adam was beyond relieved that his dog would make a full recovery. He felt the ball of stress in his chest loosen up. But after giving the good news, now the doctor had to give him the more unfortunate side of things.
It was the matter of settlement. Haus’ health wouldn’t be free, and it wouldn’t be cheap. But the price would send Adam spiraling.
Adam knew he had to find another way to pay for his dog’s bill. He couldn’t afford the treatment after the doctor informed him how much it would be. Even with all of his savings, it was far too much to pay at once.
He racked his brain for solutions. But he had no idea that someone else would be looking for the answer too.
The vet’s bill equated to $28,000. An absurd sum of money for anyone. He definitely didn’t have that kind of money just lying around. He would have to think on his feet to try and come up with a plan.
He had no idea what he would do. But little did he know, the solution was busy being sorted out right under his nose.
It had been a week since the trip to the vet, and thankfully, Haus was doing extremely well. He had recovered from the snake bite but put his owner in crippling debt. The poor dog had no idea that things cost money and couldn’t help it.
Adam was just glad that his pup was okay. But everything would change when he got a strange phone call.
Just as Adam thought that he’d have to take out a mortgage just to be able to pay for the vet bills, his phone started ringing. It was an unknown number calling him, and even though he didn’t normally answer them, something felt different.
He had a gut feeling that this was an important call. But when he answered, he didn’t recognize the voice on the other side.
The man told Adam that he wanted to help him. He had heard about his struggles with his dog and was thankful that he had made a recovery. Adam was understandably suspicious; how did this man know about his life so much?
But then things took an even stranger turn. The man directed Adam to a website he’d never heard of before.
Adam should have known better, but he decided to trust the stranger. He followed his directions down to the letter. But he couldn’t shake the feeling like this was a mistake. As he got closer to figuring out what was going on, his heart started pounding in his chest.
Did this man really want to help? Adam just hoped things would work out for the best.
Adam finally made it to the website, but he couldn’t believe what he was looking at. There was a GoFundMe page for Haus’ treatment. The anonymous caller explained that he had set it up for him after overhearing him speaking to the doctor at the vet.
Adam couldn’t thank the man enough. But when he looked at how much money had been raised, tears formed in his eyes.
The man that had called Adam explained that the GoFundMe page had started out slow but picked up traction on social media after someone shared Haus’ story. This meant that people from all over the world saw it.
And they were more than willing to donate to the pup in need. But with so many people, the amount of money became ludicrous quickly.
When news of the dog’s heroic actions spread on social media, the public was so awed by Haus’ fighting spirit that the cash began to pour in. Within just a few days, the campaign had reached a whopping $51,000 – almost double the DeLucas’ original goal.
Now, with his family and hundreds of Americans rallying for him, Haus had to fight as hard for his own life as he had fought for Molly’s.
“Everyone’s generosity is allowing him to live, and we’re so touched and overwhelmed,” Donya said. “I have people from Sweden – and I don’t even know anyone in Sweden – reaching out and donating. It’s crazy.”
And with all the support, care, and love being sent to Haus the Hero Dog, a miracle happened.
Miraculously, Haus was ready to go home in just seven days. Luckily, he had received treatment just in time, and vets were able to mitigate the massive amount of venom he had absorbed.
Donya was beside herself. “I would almost say it seems miraculous, based on the turnaround that we had from last week,” she told ABC News. “We’re just really, really happy.” But fans and followers had one question on their minds.
Everyone wanted to know: how was Haus doing?
Donya opened Haus his very own Facebook account to keep his fans updated. “We’ve gotten a lot of requests for updates, so I wanted to reach out,” she wrote in 2017. “Haus is doing very well. He is happy and healthy with very minimal lasting effects.”
The amount of money that they now had was certainly ludicrous. It had gotten out of hand quickly. They were grateful for the help from sympathetic people all over the globe, but now they were in a predicament.
They felt bad taking so much money from people. Especially since there was so much excess.
The DeLucas had more money than ever now. But what would they do with it now? Haus’ bills were paid for, which left them with a whopping $24,000 left over. The kindness of strangers had helped them out more than they could imagine.
It didn’t feel right to spend the money on anything selfish. This money was a gesture made out of kindness, so they had to do the same that others had done to them.
After paying Haus’ veterinary bills, the DeLucas decided to send the rest of the funds to Heidi’s Legacy Rescue, where Haus was adopted, as well as other shelters in the area. Donya hopes Haus’ story will raise awareness for other dogs in need.
“People always want to adopt a puppy because it’s a puppy,” she said. “But adult dogs need homes too, and I hope my story will encourage people to go find their own Haus, who’s just as deserving of a home as a puppy.” Couldn’t we all do with a hero dog like Haus to protect us in our homes?
The Delucas decided that they would try to find a way to thank all of the donators for saving their wonderful dog. That’s why they set up the social media page in the first place. But they never expected it to catch on.
Now people across the world could see what their donations made possible. The health of their spectacular dog.
The DeLucas had no idea how much attention their dog would even get. They set it up more out of obligation than anything else. They didn’t want to give millions of people the cold shoulder after they were kind to them.
But after only posting a handful of photos, the followers started rolling in. Their dog was a big hit!
The social media page grew rapidly over the next few months and exploded into a sensation. People loved Haus and the heartwarming story he had to tell. What was even better was that many people who saw the post were redirected to a link on their page.
The DeLucas cleverly put up a link on Haus’ page that had a caption, “if you like me, you should go check out the shelter I came from. There are lots of others like me.”
The link sent people to Heidi’s Legacy Rescue’s website. The family was happy to hear that many people from across the world were now donating directly to the shelter thanks to them.
And what was even better was that many more people were coming into the shelter to adopt their very own Haus. This meant that many older dogs were given the chance they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.