Dogs are incredible creatures, not only for their kindness, loyalty, and companionship, but for their bravery when it comes to protecting their loved ones.

One 16-year-old learned just how much of a hero his German shepherd, Rex, really was when armed intruders broke into his family’s Des Moines, Iowa house on February 21. Javier Mercado had been home alone with Rex when he heard something, looked out the window, and noticed an unfamiliar car outside. That’s when he found himself trapped in the middle of a life-threatening situation.

“I then heard the sliding door break, and it is made out of just glass so it shattered really loud,” said Mercado. “My dog ran downstairs, and it just started barking and barking. I heard one guy scream, ‘the dog bit me, get the dog.'” Mercado dialed 9-1-1 and ran to hide in a closet.

“Rex stormed back to the upstairs floor all beat up and bloody,” Javier’s aunt wrote. “Soon, the burglars proceeded to the upstairs floor and trashed all the bedrooms. As they entered the room where Javier was hiding in the closet, Rex came out with the little strength he had left in him and threw himself at them as he knew my nephew was in danger.”

Mercado stayed in the closet for nearly an hour. By the time he came out, the intruders were gone, scared away by police sirens. It was then that he learned his beloved buddy, Rex, had been shot four times.

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