When Donya DeLuca rescued Haus, a 2-year-old German shepherd from Heidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue in Tampa, Florida, two months ago, her husband, Adam, looked at her like she was crazy.
“We had recently lost our family dog, who had been with us for 13 years,” DeLuca told TODAY. “So he looked at me like, ‘Are you serious?’ But I just couldn’t pass up the chance to rescue him.”
Haus, whose name means "house" in German, quickly won over the hearts of Donya and Adam DeLuca, and their two children, Molly, 7, and Joey, 4.
“He just bonded with all of us so quickly, it was like he was always part of our home,” said DeLuca. “Even the neighbors took to him. It was meant to be.
"Especially at night, he’s very protective of the kids. He follows them around, he take cares of them.”
After swiftly becoming the heart of the home, Haus quickly proved his loyalty when a dangerous rattlesnake showed up in the family’s backyard last week. The dog followed his protective instincts and saved Molly from a possible attack.
“He instantly positioned himself between the snake and Molly, so at first, her and her grandma didn’t even realize what he was staring at — but then all of a sudden there was all of this blood," said DeLuca.
That’s when the family realized that Haus had taken three large bites from the snake on his right front leg, presumably to prevent the snake from attacking Molly and her grandmother.
Now, Haus is fighting against the deadly rattlesnake venom, which doctors at BluePearl, a 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital in Tampa, believe came from the bite of an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, one of the most dangerous venomous snakes on the continent.
The snake infected Haus with so much venom that his doctors have him on a constant drip of anti-venom, something that DeLuca calls an “unorthodox” approach, as common practice is to only give one or two doses of the treatment. However, despite being in critical condition last Thursday evening, DeLuca tells TODAY that as of this morning, Haus is expected to make a full recovery. And his doctors are surprised.
“It’s semi-miraculous, his condition,” she said. “What keeps me going is how he still flicks his tail every time he sees me come in to his kennel, even though I know he’s hurting.
“I can tell that his mindset is to keep going, his personality is just tremendous like that.”
While his kidney function and red blood cell count are still down, according to DeLuca, doctors believe that no permanent damage has been done.
"They're all rooting for him," she said.
In an effort to fund Haus’s accumulating medical bills, the family has set up a GoFundMe page titled "Help Save Haus," which has already reached over $52,000 as of this morning — surpassing their goal of $28,000.
"Everyone's generosity is allowing him to live, and we're so touched and overwhelmed," DeLuca said. "I have people from Sweden — and I don't even know anyone in Sweden — reaching out and donating. It's crazy."
She added, "This is setting such a good example for my kids, too, to show them that there is good in the world and that when you're struggling, people will help you."
With such a speedy and overwhelming outpouring of support, the DeLucas have decided to donate the leftover funds to Heidi's Legacy Rescue, where Haus was found, and other local shelters, in an effort to encourage others to adopt adult shelter dogs.
"People always wants 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."