When Theresa Lero went outside to feed her horses one morning two weeks ago, two armed and masked young men entered her Gulfport, Miss. house.
“The dog came trotting down the hall, growling at the door, and I said, ‘What is it, Leon?'” Lero told the Sun Herald. “I went over to the window to look at the door and facing me in my pass-through window was a man in a ski mask with a gun. I said, ‘What?’ Then I said, ‘Out!'”
Lero ran to her bedroom to wake her husband, Brickford, who was still sleeping.
“She woke me up basically screaming, ‘Get the gun, get the gun,’ and they took off,” Brickford Lero told WDAM.
She grabbed a gun and told Leon, their 2-year-old Pit Bull mix, to “Get ’em.” The two chased after the intruders.
Lero tried to fire her gun at the two men, but there wasn’t a bullet in a chamber. “They shot at me and I just went clickety, clickety, click,” she told the Sun Herald.
The intruders began shooting. Lero said one bullet whizzed by her on the right, one on the left — and a third struck Leon in the head.
“Even after he was wounded, he was after them,” Lero told WDAM.
“You shot my dog. I’ll kill you myself,” Lero yelled at the intruders. Her neighbors heard her threat and called 911.
The intruders were chased away, and the Leros rushed Leon to a vet. Miraculously, the bullet had skidded along the top of the dog’s skull and exited out his ear, narrowly missing his brain.
“He actually walked into the ER,” Lero told the Sun Herald. “I said, ‘How many gunshot-wound-to-the-head victims walk in to the ER? Leon says, ‘I do.'”
Lero and her husband rescued Leon from a shelter. Thinking he was a Redbone Coonhound, they named him after the singer Leon Redbone. But it turns out that Leon really may be a red-nose Pit Bull (but they probably won’t change his name to Rudolph).
The intruders, Adam Lee Kennedy and Jonathan Hunter Wesley, were later arrested by police. They had intended to steal drugs and money from another house, but the door was locked, so they went next door to the Leros’ house. Cocaine and $5,000 in drug money were seized from the house they originally targeted.
For his heroic deed, Leon received a framed certificate of bravery Thursday from Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson.
The certificate honors Leon “for his courage, bravery and self-sacrifice on March 21, when he protected his family during a home invasion without regard for his own safety. Even after receiving serious wounds during the attack, Leon continued to pursue the criminals, exhibiting a deep love and devotion for his family.”
Peterson told the Sun Herald that Leon is “undoubtedly a hero.”
There are three words this hero will never hear again, Lero told the Sun Herald: “Go get ’em.”
“It nearly got my dog killed,” she said. Although she used to consider Leon just a pet and not a “real dog,” she said she’s changed her mind, now that the rescue dog returned the favor by rescuing his family.
“I guess he showed me,” Lero told the Sun Herald. “He’s my pet and my real dog.”
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