Bryan and Alicia Holloway were relaxing in their backyard in Sevierville, when their 18-month-old son, Bryson, stepped outside on the porch to join them. That's when their Australian shepherd, Shiloh, noticed something was wrong.
“Shiloh jumped up and took off after [Bryson],” Bryan told WBTW. “He lunged right towards the baby and at the baby’s feet, and when he did he kind of jerked back.”
A copperhead snake, one of the most venomous common snakes in the Southern U.S., was inches away from biting Bryson. Shiloh heroically jumped between the two and was bitten in the jaw.
"Turning his head to the side and shaking his head and you could tell he’d been hurt, that the snake had gotten him," said Bryan. "As furry as he is, and he has so much fur around his neck, you could visibly see the swelling."
Luckily, Shiloh made a full recovery after being rushed to the vet. Bryan reports that Shiloh and his son are the best of friends and he's happy they could be reunited.
“They just do everything together,” Bryan said. “As much as he loves everybody else, those two, the baby and that dog, have a bond.”
Copperhead snakes usually don't pose a lethal threat to adults, unless the bite is left untreated.
"The venom for this particular type of snake is a degenerative venom, not a neurotoxin, so it’s not as dangerous as, say, a coral snake," snake expert Matt Evans told KTVT. "This degenerative venom in time breaks up muscle tissue -- it kinds of rots it. So, the only real danger of that is if it’s left untreated."
Alicia is sure her son wouldn't have survived if bitten.
"He’s 24 pounds, and I believe that it would have killed him," she said.
Copperhead bites can be lethal for household pets, making Shiloh's rescue all the more heroic.
"We give God the glory in everything, and we know that he used that dog, that wonderful dog, to protect him, and we’re thankful every day for him now," said Alicia.