“I should have been bit. I don’t know how I wasn’t bit!”

Great Danes are often referred to as gentle giants, filled with loyal devotion to their human and fellow pet families. With this kind of love, even a deadly rattlesnake's strike couldn't keep Mia, a 3 year old black and white Great Dane, from protecting her owner, Megan Montano, and Chihuahua brother, Rebel.

A day in early May seemed like any other for Montano as she returned to her Oceanside, Calif., home at lunchtime to give her pups a romp break outdoors. She opened a door to the back patio and bent down to put a leash on Rebel. Suddenly, she felt Mia pushing behind her, then up against her left side. In a flash, the Great Dane made a little noise and backed up—that's when Montano said she saw a snake, nearly 2 feet long, coiled up by the edge of the house. 

"I think she thought it was an intruder and was going to probably push it out," Montano told ABC 10 News San Diego. "I should have been bit. I don't know how I wasn't bit!" She wasn't injured because Mia acted quickly to prevent the snake from reaching her and Rebel. 

black and white great dane standing in the grass
Credit: Bianca / Adobe Stock

Unfortunately, the big brave doggo suffered the consequences. "She kept trying to hit her mouth with her paw. Instantly, I knew it had bit her," said Montano in her news interview. Montano immediately took Mia to a veterinarian, where she received antivenin.

The Montano family started a GoFundMe to help pay for Mia's vet treatments, which very well may have saved her life. Recent updates to the fundraiser site say that while Mia is now at home from the clinic, she's not quite out of the woods yet. Montano shared that while their hero pup is finally starting to eat little bites of food again—namely, chicken and peanut butter—the Great Dane still has a long road ahead until she's fully recovered. "She is currently wrapped up in a blanket the couch with her little brother right by her side," Montano shared on May 16. 

The bond between pets and their humans truly is something special, and Mia is certainly an example of that. Where most people would have hesitated in fear when faced with danger, this bold canine rushed in. "I would say Mia is definitely my hero dog," Montano told ABC 10. Now there's a really good girl!

According to the news report, wildlife control officers later captured the rattlesnake and relocated it. Nevertheless, she now says she checks the patio first before letting out the pups, and offers a tip to other pet owners. "Be aware of your surroundings, and just be smart. Have your head on a swivel at all times." Yes, indeed, this is sssssound advice. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says that snakes across the U.S. are most active between April and October. Those warmer months are coincidentally the same times humans and pets are eager to roam outside, too. Wildlife ecosystems in many states across the country have some type of venomous snake (not Alaska, though!), and various species of rattlesnakes are the most common. Check with your state's wildlife or natural resources department or a local university extension office to learn more about the slithery creatures living in your area. They can offer advice on what to do if you or your pet is bitten by a snake, and how to prevent encounters with them in the first place.