Normally, Leo would run away at the sight of a bigger dog. But not on this day. When a raging bull-mastiff cross-breed attacked a 10-year-old girl last year, the small dachsund jumped to her rescue, barking and biting at the dog way above his size and strength. Leo paid with his life, but the citizens of the Serbian town of Pancevo have not forgotten. Two weeks ago, a life-size bronze statue of Leo was put up next to a children's playground in Pancevo's city park, honoring the dog and teaching kids about animal friendship and sacrifice. An alert-looking Leo, his head raised above his stretched paws, now rests proudly on a white base surrounded by flowers.
Nikolina Vucetic, the girl Leo defended, often comes by. "I am so glad Leo has a monument—he turned out to be a real hero." Nikolina recalls returning home from a friend's house when the neighbor's guard dog came down the street, jumped at her from behind, and grabbed her arm. The dog pinned the girl to the ground, pulling her left and right with his jaws. "I screamed and Leo rushed out barked and ran around, biting him on the leg," Nikolina says, showing the scars from the attack. "When the dog let go of me, he looked around and then stormed at Leo." Leo didn't stand a chance. Despite efforts by veterinarians, his injuries were too severe and Leo died two days later. (In a California, a cat just won an annual "hero dog" award.)