A 2-year-old German Shepherd named Rex that took three bullets and a battering while defending the life of its 16-year-old owner during a home invasion in Renton, Washington, is now being hailed a hero as thousands in donations pour in to help with the dog's recovery.
Des Moines Police Department Cmdr. Doug Jenkins told KCPQ that at about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday two thieves broke into a home in the 1400 block of South 234th Street.
At the time, only the dog and its 16-year-old identified by Q13 as Javier Mercado were inside the home.
"A 16-year-old boy who was home alone said he believed someone was breaking in," Jenkins told KCPQ in Seattle. "He heard noises and voices, ran upstairs and hid in closet. He continued relaying everything he heard on the phone with dispatch."
As Javier told police what was happening inside his home as he hid in the closet he explained that Rex confronted the thieves and fought to protect him.
"I just want to thank my dog," the teenager said. "If it wasn't for him, I feel like I wouldn't be standing here right now."
He explained how he was forced to listen as his beloved dog got shot multiple times as the armed thieves tried to get to him.
"I started hearing barking, a lot of barking, and then one of the guys screamed, 'The dog bit me, the dog bit me!'" said Javier who later heard gunshots go off and his dog howl.
"My dog cries after each shot," he said, "just the worst thing I've ever seen."
The teenager explained that the gunmen only took off after they heard police sirens.
The dog survived the attack but suffered injury to both of its hind legs as well as a bullet to its neck. Javier and his family believe it's a miracle the dog survived.
Rex is now being treated at the BluePearl Renton veterinary hospital. Javier's aunt, Susy Cadena, explained in a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $24,000 to help with Rex's medical expenses how fiercely the dog fought to protect her nephew.
"Rex's instinct to protect his home and his best friend, took him downstairs and he attacked the burglars. Both of the burglars struggled and beat him up with whatever they could. Rex stormed back to the upstairs floor all beat up and bloody from the beating to check on his master who was still hiding in the closet. Soon, the burglars proceeded to the upstairs floor and trashed all the bedrooms," she wrote.
"As they entered the room where my nephew was hiding in the closet, Rex came out with the little strength he had left in him and threw himself at them as he knew my nephew was in danger. Sadly they shot Rex 4 (sic) times and finally Rex, the hero dog gave up in his battle. It was the sirens that scared them away," she added.
Cadena explained that Rex will have to do a series of expensive surgeries to survive and the public has responded with prayers and donations for the hero dog.
"Rex is an angel," Julia Cadena, Javier's mother, told Q13. "He's my four-legged angel that we had at our house."
She said Rex was a gift for Javier and his family and the dog has always been protective of the teenager.
"Seeing him the way he is right now, you know, how can people do something like that, to a dog?" said Cadena.
"They didn't hesitate shooting Rex, they didn't hold back on anything," Javier said. "If Rex wasn't there, they would have opened that door and they would have saw me in there."