When the Svilicic family decided to open their home to an adopted dog, they weren’t sure what to expect.

Adopting a dog can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience. Most dogs that end up in the shelter come from homes where they knew nothing but abuse and neglect. To give them a forever home and the love they’ve been missing all their lives is a beautiful thing, and many adoptive pet parents feel grateful for the chance to save a life.

Heroic Dog Saves Girl From Snake

Unfortunately, there’s always the chance that a shelter dog’s former life has left deep scars that can’t be repaired. Years of abuse can turn what was once a happy, healthy dog into an aggressive and anxious animal.

Would the Svilicics be one of the unlucky families who met their shelter pet with love and trust only to have the dog turn on them? It seemed Catherine Svilicic’s worst fears were realized when she witnessed her adopted Doberman Pinscher grab and toss her 17-month-old daughter across the yard. But what would make the Doberman Pinscher attack?

As she rushed to protect her daughter, Catherine realized that the attack wasn’t exactly as it seemed. The Doberman wasn’t trying to hurt her daughter, he was trying to save her.

So how did a Doberman Pinscher named Kahn go from abused, neglected shelter dog to hero?

Let’s start from the beginning.

When they decided it was time to add a furry friend to the family, the Svilicic family knew they wanted to help a dog in need. The Svilicics are from Cairns, Australia, and the unwanted pet population was at an all time high. Catherine Svilicic wanted to help, so she and her husband went to the local shelter to look for their newest family member.

The couple settled on a Doberman Pinscher named Kahn. When Kahn was rescued, he was starving, several of his ribs were broken, and it was clear he had suffered abuse at the hand of his owner.

Kahn was in bad shape. The shelter’s staff worried he would never recover and debated on whether or not they should just put him down. But Khan deserved a second chance, and the shelter gave it to him.

The Svilicic’s choice to take home a Doberman might seem like an interesting one.

The dogs are often stereotyped as being aggressive and ferocious animals, which can sometimes make placing rescues difficult. Yes, the Doberman was originally bred to be a personal protection dog, and yes they have often been featured in Hollywood blockbusters as villain and police attack dogs. But the truth is some of the more aggressive traits have been bred out of the modern Doberman, and the dogs make fiercely loyal and loving family dogs.

Catherine knew about the dog’s history, but despite the abuse he suffered, she felt safe bringing Khan into the home she shared with her husband and 17-month-old daughter, Charlotte.

After all, Khan would now be in a loving home with a family who appreciated and cared for him. Certainly this would keep him happy enough to prevent any sort of trouble, right?

Four days later, little Charlotte was outside in the garden playing, Khan by her side. So far everything had been going well with Khan in the house. He seemed to get along with Charlotte well enough, but Catherine was still slightly worried and kept a close eye on them.

So when she noticed Khan nudging Charlotte that afternoon, she was concerned. It looked like Khan was getting aggressive, snarling in Charlotte’s direction. What she saw next, though, Catherine never could have imagined. She certainly would never forget it, making for a memorable ‘dog saves child’ story.

“If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would never have believed it,” Catherine said.

“Khan was really concentrating and was acting aggressively towards Charlotte – and kept trying to nudge her but it wasn’t working. So he grabbed her by the back of the nappy and threw her over his shoulder more than a meter, like she was a rag doll.”

Terrified, Catherine ran outside to help her child. Charlotte was in shock, but what Catherine couldn’t understand was why Kahn was howling as if he were in pain. What was going on, she wondered?

That’s when she saw it, a brown snake slithering through the grass. The scene she saw from the window suddenly looked very different to her. Khan wasn’t snarling at Charlotte, he was snarling at the snake. Khan wasn’t trying to hurt Charlotte, the Doberman was protecting the baby.

This was no ordinary garden snake, either. The brown reptile was none other than the Mulga snake, better known as the king brown. The king brown has the largest recorded venom output of any snake in the world and can deliver 150 mg of venom in just one bite. For comparison, the average tiger snake produces 10 to 40 mg of venom when milked.

King brown snakes can be easily agitated and are known to bite savagely. Many will hang on to their prey and chew as they inject their venom. King brown venom contains myotoxins, which destroy red blood cells and cause near instantaneous paralysis and eventually … death.

When the snake began to hiss at Charlotte, Khan quickly stepped in. He barked ferociously trying to scare the snake off, but it wasn’t backing down. Khan sensed that Charlotte was in trouble, so he picked her up and threw her out of harm’s way. The heroic dog saves girl from snake.

“Charlotte looked pretty shocked and Khan screamed, like he’d been stabbed,” Catherine told the Daily Mail. “I realized he had been trying to get in between her and the snake before he threw her.” It’s not everyday when you hear stories about how a dog saves a baby, and this ‘doberman protecting baby’ tale is certainly rare.

Khan wasn’t quite quick enough, though. Although Khan was able to get Charlotte to safety, the snake saw an opportunity and had sunk it’s teeth into Khan’s front right paw.

Once Catherine arrived outside and secured the area, Khan ran into the home and collapsed. The venom coursing through his veins had already taken hold of him. Within minutes he was struggling to even breathe.

The brown king is the deadliest snake in Australia, causing more deaths than any other snake on the continent. Catherine knew she had to act fast if Khan was going to live.

She rushed Khan to a local clinic, praying that she wouldn’t be too late. The Doberman was given a lifesaving shot of anti-venom. It would be a rough night for the pup, but Khan pulled through it.

Khan showed everyone just how tough he could be. The next morning, he enjoyed a nice big breakfast at the animal hospital, and who can blame him? Saving the day can sure work up a hero’s appetite!

Khan sure has seen quite the transformation.

“When Kerry Kinder (Doberinling Boarding Kennels owner) rescued him, he was starving, had broken ribs and had been beaten – he was an abused dog,” Catherine said. “It was borderline on whether or not he should be put down because he was in such a bad way.”

Now he’s a hero in the Svilicic family’s eyes.

The Svilicic family would have loved Khan no matter what, but after saving little Charlotte’s life, the family was truly indebted to him. Khan will never want for anything, not after what he did for her daughter, Catherine said.

“If Khan wants a gold bowl, Khan gets it. We owe him for the rest of his life,” she said.

No one could have predicted that a dog, who had only known his new family for four days, would make such a sacrifice for them. That is, except Mrs. Kinder.

Mrs. Kinder is the one who bred Khan, and she was actually the person to rescue him. She had heard that he was being mistreated by his “family” (though really they were nothing of the sort) and she wouldn’t stand for it. She called the authorities and had Khan removed from the property and transferred to a shelter.

It broke Mrs. Kinder’s heart to see what Khan had to go through with his previous owners. Despite his past though, she knew what Khan was capable of. He just wanted to be love and love in return.

Khan found that with the Svilicic family, and so his act of bravery made complete sense to Mrs. Kinder.

“He was starving for attention and wanted to be loved because he came from an abused home, so I’m not surprised about what he has done at his new home,” she said.

So what is Khan up to these days? Well, he’s back at home living the good life with his family. He and Charlotte have become the best of friends, and she’s always happy to accompany him outside for a romp in the yard.

Khan might not have a food bowl made of solid gold, but he does have a loving family that is always willing to shower him with cuddles and kisses. And really, that’s all a dog could ask for.