Three years ago, an abandoned Great Pyrenees puppy limped on his broken ankle on the side of a Texas highway. His fur was shaggy and there were patches of skin that have been caused by mange.

Luckily Laura Martinez and her family stopped by the puppy and rescued him from an apparent a certain death.

The Martinez family quickly sent the puppy to the nearest veterinarian office. The doctor said Zero did not have a chance to survive long and advised the family to put him down to ease the dog’s pains. However, they couldn’t do it.

Zero, a Great Pyrenees (Laura Martinez)

Laura said her kids were already too attached to the puppy, so they just did everything to help the little one recover.

The one-month old pup was named “Zero,” from Jack Skellington’s spooky ghost dog in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” movie. Zero came back in full health and became a big part of their lives – he was part of their family, and he was grateful for his saviors.

On March 10, Martinez’ daughter was celebrating her 12th birthday when 17-year old Javian Castaneda, a longtime family friend, pulled up to their driveway.

Laura said she confronted Castaneda a day before, because she suspected that he broke into her house and stole some cash. Laura asked Castaneda to leave, but he hit her in the face and pulled out a gun and fired at least nine times.

Zero jumped to Castaneda in the hopes of stopping the teenager from firing more, but Castaneda shot Zera in the chest and kept firing. Zero managed to get up and bit Castaneda’s arm again, but Castaneda kept firing and hit Zero in the ear and in the stomach.

“I can honestly tell you there’s no way we would be here without Zero,” Laura told Washington Post. “The reason why all our wounds are below the waist is because every time Zero jumped up… it kept him from being able to aim.”

Castaneda was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Laura Martinez and her family gather around the memorial for their dog, Zero. (Laura Martinez)

Zero was taken to the vet after the incident, but this time, they had no other choice but to agree to put Zero down.

“We were meant to find him,” Laura said about ‘Zero the Hero’. “And what he did was what he was meant to do. That’s the only thought making it any better.”

Related stories:
– Hero in the battlefield
– Haven for heroes
– Remembering Stan Lee: Creator of the greatest animal heroes