'Hero' Dog Saves Owner from Venomous Snake Bite: 'His Bravery and Loyalty Deserve Recognition'

Rizzo, a lab mix from Colorado Springs, was bit in the face by a snake while hiking with his owner Carissa Welch last week

<p>KRDO NewsChannel 13/Youtube</p> Rizzo the dog and owner Carissa Welch

KRDO NewsChannel 13/Youtube

Rizzo the dog and owner Carissa Welch

A Colorado Springs dog is being called a "hero" after selflessly defending his owner during a rattlesnake encounter last week.

Rizzo, a lab mix, joined his owner Carissa Welch on a hike on April 15, when he stepped between her and a rattlesnake on the hiking path, she told local ABC affiliate KRDO.

The pup then sustained a "venomous bite" to the face, a new GoFundMe campaign notes, as his "swift actions saved [Welch] from harm" after he "risked his life to protect" her.

"I heard the rattle, turned around and I instantly yanked him," Welch told KRDO, adding that she yanked the lab too late and he had to spend a day and a half in an emergency room.

"I wasn't wearing my boots. Those were my trail running shoes -- if he had not taken the bite, I feel like it would have been me," Welch said.

<p>Joshua Randall/GoFundMe</p> Rizzo the dog being treated for a rattlesnake bite

Joshua Randall/GoFundMe

Rizzo the dog being treated for a rattlesnake bite

Related: Postal Worker Brings Dog to Vet After Snake Bite, Lets Family Know on Doorbell Camera

Per the GoFundMe campaign, which was launched by Welch's brother-in-law Joshua Randall, Rizzo's treatment has led to "substantial" expenses for his owner.

"Rizzo has been an integral part of my sister-in-law's life, bringing joy and companionship into her life every day," Randall wrote in the campaign, which has since earned over $1,400 of a $3,000 goal, as of April 22.

"His bravery and loyalty deserve recognition, and your contribution will ensure he receives the care he needs to heal and thrive once again."

Speaking with the local outlet, Welch said her pup had been there for her as she was dealing with mental health struggles in the past, and that "there's no amount of money I would not pay to save his life."

Rizzo is already back home after his roughly $3,000 treatment for the venomous bite and now has bald spots on his legs where the medication was administered, per KRDO.

"I'm grateful and blessed to have him," Welch said.

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According to the American Kennel Club, if a dog is bitten by a snake, owners are encouraged to call a veterinarian immediately before taking the animal to a clinic that has access to antivenom. It works best immediately after a bite, but is effective hours or days after the fact. Other possible treatments include an opioid injection.

"Copperheads are less venomous than water moccasins, which are in turn less venomous than rattlesnakes. Larger snakes can deliver more venom than smaller snakes," per a write-up on the Kennel Club's website. "But bites from any venomous snake warrant a trip to the emergency vet."

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