Not a picture of Chief, but intended to elicit an emotional response
The story of Chief, an American Pit Bull Terrier in the Philippines who sacrificed himself to save his human family from a cobra, showed up on my Tumblr dashboard a little while ago. It is a beautiful but tragic story, evoking all of the emotions that dog stories like that tend to do. It also set off some skepticism warning bells for me, since the internet has a way of embellishing and propagating stories well beyond the original facts. Chief’s story needs to be told, but in order to be told it also needs to be true, and supported by news sources.
WARNING: Some of the links below include a picture that might be Chief but is definitely triggering.
Hopeful Veterinarian posted a link on Tumblr on March 19 that leads to a post on the blog Cool Story, Dog! dated March 13, 2012. That post contains no external links, which is what caused my initial skepticism.
A Google search led to a post on pets.ohio.com dated October 27, 2009. The cited source is a March 1, 2007 DogsInTheNews.com post. This post leads to what appears to be the actual source material:
- A post dated February 16, 2007, authored by Herbie Gomez, on the blog site for the Cagayan de Oro Journal;
- An article dated February 24, 2007 in the Manila Times (dead link); and
- A post to the site forum.dog-tracker.com (access forbidden).
The incident evidently occurred on Monday, February 12, 2007, in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, a city of just over 500,000 people on the island of Mindanao. The article has some journalistic problems (secondhand quotes and such), but it lays out the entire story rather well. From the Cagayan de Oro Journal post:
A pit bull terrier proved beyond doubt that a dog can become a man’s best friend when it saved and gave its life for its master’s wife and her grandmother in Barangay Lapasan here.
The dog named “Chief,” saved 87-year-old Liberata la Victoria and her granddaughter Maria Victoria Fronteras from a cobra that snaked through an opening in the family’s kitchen shortly around 8 a.m. Monday.
On two occasions, the snake was about to attack the women when the dog dashed from a corner and used itself as a shield.
Marlone Fronteras, an employee of Nestle Philippines who owned the terrier, said Chief seized the venomous snake in the neck with its teeth and repeatedly slammed it on the floor until it died.
The dog was bitten too by the cobra; it died a few minutes later after giving its master a farewell gaze, according to the dog owner’s friends Mare Sabelita and Derf Ian dela Rama.
“The snake was in front of us., maneuvering a deadly attack,” Sabelita quoted Maria Victoria as saying. “I screamed out loud to ask for help.”
Hearing this, the four-year old pit bull terrier dashed from its sleeping area to fight off the deadly snake, said Sabelita quoting Maria Victoria.
The cobra fought back and bit Chief at the lower left portion of the jaw. The dog then repeatedly slammed the cobra after it succeeded in immobilizing the snake with its sharp teeth, she said.
Dela Rama said la Victoria was watching television when she panicked and alerted her granddaughter. The old lady said the cobra was about to attack her and the dog came to her rescue.
Maria Victoria said she saw the cobra expand its neck as soon as she turned the lights on. She said the cobra looked like it was spitting as its inched closer, about a meter away, toward her.
De la Rama said the terrier, “out of nowhere,” jumped on the cobra , bit it the neck, and then shook it till it died.
Moments later, the dog slouched flat and fainted, spreading its arms and feet on the floor, after killing the killer snake.
De la Rama said the dog went wobbly and lost control of its organs some 30 minutes after being bitten by the cobra; it started to urinate and defecate uncontrollably as it grasped for air and panted heavily.
The Fronterases sought the help of veterinarian but they were reportedly told that it was too late because the snake bite was near the dog’s brain and the venom had already spread.
Sabilita said Marlone rushed home when his wife called him up to tell him of what had happened and the dog’s master was stunned.
The Fronteras children, who treated Chief like a member of the family and who called the dog “Kuya Chief,” were deeply affected, according to Sabelita.
The last thing Chief did was waggle its tail and gaze at Marlone who had just come from work, said Sabelita.
“Chief gave his two deep breaths and died. (It) was fighting and saving (its) last ounces of breath to see a glimpse of (its) master for the last two seconds of (its) life,” added dela Rama.
Sabelita said he hoped people would change how they look at pit bull terriers, a breed strongly discouraged in many countries and banned because of their “cruel looks.”
We never get the change [sic] to know them more,” said Sabelita.
I don’t know what caused this story to start showing up online again five years after the fact, but I am glad it did.
Photo credit: ‘Baby puppy pit bull, Bach’ by Beverly & Pack on Flickr.