No-one could have known that Joe - a little three-year-old Shitzu the size of a cat - was destined to become a hero.He showed incredible bravery coming to the need of his family living in Lecco, in the north of Italy.Two neighbouring dogs - a Pitbull and a Boxer - jumped into his garden where Joe was playing with his mom and his human brothers. Without hestitating for a second, Joe put himself between the intruding dogs and his family, allowing them to escape to safety inside the house.Despite his courage, Joe was no match for the two much bigger dogs. They tore him apart in front of his terrified family.The family, which is made up of Enrico Nocera, his wife and their two sons aged 14 and 3, live in a small house in Sirtori, in the north of Italy. According to the family, Joe had been like a third son to them. Enrico told Italian newspaper Il Giorno:
My wife and older son were in the garden when the two neighbouring dogs jumped out from nowhere, after they'd dug a hole under a mesh fence which separates their garden from ours. These two big dogs went for my wife and son straight away, but our little Joe got between them, allowing my son to save his mother and for them to run to safety together.
Joe with his two brothers, aged 14 and 4. Source: Il Giorno[/caption]However the mother and son weren't able to help Joe in turn. Although police, who had been called to the scene, were able to calm the two dogs, it was only with the help of local animal authorities and dog catchers that the dogs were placated and sedated. The Pitbull and the Boxer were sized and brought to kennels, but for Joe, nothing could be done.The family is in shock:
It was a devastating scene, they tore him to pieces. We can't sleep at night because we're so upset, horrified and afraid.
But a still-more-horrifying detail was yet to be added into the picture. The owner of the two dogs had already been reported for the training methods he subjected the dogs to in order to make them more aggressive. If action had been taken, Joe might still be alive.[caption id="attachment_45317" align="alignnone" width="600"]
A pitbull. Source: Forlì Today[/caption]Enrico said:
In Italy something ugly still has to happen before anyone intervenes. I can't even imagine what might have happened if my younger son had been there, or if Joe hadn't sacrificed himself. I just hope that what happened to use never happens to anyone else.