Family pet turns hero on camping trip

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SARASOTA - Our pets are like our family members. They are there for us when we need company and love us unconditionally even on our worst days. But sometimes they can also save our lives, as one Sarasota family found out on their camping trip a few months ago.

“I was having to take her out, it was around 9:30, and we were just walking around like we do every night.”

On a short stroll through the grass in front of their cabin at Sun-N-Fun Campground, Brenden Colton realized they were not alone. “I started to hear something, it was kind of like a faint thing, I really wasn't paying too much attention.”

But to his dog Lily's ears -- and senses – the sound was trouble. “I didn't know what it was, and then I finally looked and it was all coiled up and it was a huge, huge snake.”

An eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the largest venomous snake in North America -- with a potentially fatal bite.

“It scared me like crazy.”

But because Lily alerted Brenden of the danger lurking right in front of him, he says she prevented him from what could have become a deadly encounter. “Definitely if I was out there by myself, I never would have noticed it. I couldn't see it at all, I never even looked that way, it was blending in perfectly with it.”

“Once I saw how big it was, I was terrified he could have been bit.” It was a close call that Brenden's mom says she hopes they never experience again. “I never thought that this would happen, so I was grateful.”

Taking man's best friend, to a whole new meaning. “We've always been really, really close. But yeah, I was just really happy that she's still here, she didn't get bit, because she if she would have got bit, she probably wouldn't be here today.”