'Hero' dog Rex was shot 3 times while protecting teen during home invasion

RENTON, Wash. – A two-year-old German Shepherd is being praised as a hero.

The dog named Rex took three bullets Wednesday while protecting his teenage owner from burglars who broke inside their Des Moines, Wash., home.

Rex is now being cared for by doctors at the BluePearl Renton veterinary hospital, and now his owners are trying to raise money to pay for his care.

Sixteen-year-old Javier Mercado can’t help but thank Rex – he’s convinced his dog saved his life.

“I just want to thank my dog,” said Javier. “If it wasn’t for him, I feel like I wouldn’t be standing here right now.”

Des Moines Police say Javier called 911 Wednesday after burglars broke into his home on the 1400 block of South 234th Street.

Mercado told dispatchers he was hiding in a closet while crooks were breaking into the house – only to be confronted by a protective dog.

“I started hearing barking, a lot of barking, and then one of the guys screamed, 'The dog bit me, the dog bit me!'" said Javier.

Moments later, Javier said, he heard gunfire.

“My dog cries after each shot,” he said, "Just the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”

Javier said the burglars took off after hearing police sirens approaching. Somehow Rex survived the shooting despite one bullet going into his neck and both of his hind legs being injured. Rex’s family says it’s a miracle the dog survived.

“Rex is an angel,” said Julia Cadena, Javier’s mother. “He’s my four-legged angel that we had at our house.”

Rex was a gift for Javier and his family and they say he's always protective of the boy.

“Seeing him the way he is right now, you know, how can people do something like that, to a dog?” said Cadena.

But now man’s best friend needs a little help to get back on his paws.

The family has raised thousands of dollars online to help pay for Rex’s medical care.

So far police haven’t made any arrests; Javier’s family says they are worried to return home.

But they are also convinced Rex saved the teen’s life – and worry what could have happened if the dog hadn’t been in the house at the time.

“They didn’t hesitate shooting Rex, they didn’t hold back on anything,” said Javier. “If Rex wasn’t there, they would have opened that door and they would have saw me in there.”