A 5-year-old girl from Washington County, Pennsylvania, was attacked by a rabid fox while playing in her yard -- but the outcome of the frightening incident would have been much worse if it weren't for a local 13-year-old boy and his dog, a husky named Domino.
Madison Hazen was in her yard in early April when a fox appeared out of nowhere, ran toward her, and lunged at her, reports Life With Dogs.
"I was down there, and the fox was coming around. It got my pant leg, and I had to run," Madison reportedly told WPXI.
The child's neighbor, Ricky Howard, witnessed the incident and ran over to help Madison.
"I kicked it, and he came out when it jumped here. I ran up and got a shovel and started beating on it," Howard told WXPI.
Howard's dog wasn't about to let his owner battle the fox alone. Domino reportedly ran from his cage and attacked the fox, who bit him three times.
Meanwhile, as Domino and the fox squared off, Madison says she was able to run off and find her parents.
A few days after the incident, health officials discovered the fox tested positive for rabies. Both Madison and Howard had to receive multiple rabies shots and Domino was quarantined for 90 days. Sadly, Domino may have to be put to sleep because, although he was vaccinated as a puppy, his family reportedly hasn't kept up with rabies shots which, by Pennsylvania state law, are required every three years.
While the dog's fate is yet to be determined, everyone around him is hailing him -- and his young owner -- as heroes.
"We're thankful for a neighbor like Ricky and a dog like Domino," said Jared Hazen, Madison's father. "She probably wouldn't still be here. She could have got mauled. We're thankful, real thankful."
Howard says helping people comes naturally to Domino.
"He's always been a good dog, always very protective and loves kids," he said. "He just did what he would always do."
Rabies is a viral disease that affects an animal's central nervous system. There is no cure for it, according to the American Humane Association, and the only way to test for it is to exam the brain tissue of a dead animal.