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'She's A Hero!' Boy Says Of Cat Who Fought Off Attacking Dog

A family's story of how their cat ran off a dog that had attacked their young son is making waves far beyond Bakersfield, Calif., as the incident was captured in a dramatic video. Surveillance cameras caught the dog viciously biting Jeremy Triantafilo and dragging him — before the family cat rushes to his rescue.

"She's a hero!" 4-year-old Jeremy said of the cat, Tara, in an interview with KERO 23 TV. He said, "I love Tara a whole lot."

Jeremy was riding his bike in the Triantafilos' driveway Tuesday afternoon when a neighbor's dog came around the rear of an SUV. The dog attacked the boy, biting him on the leg, knocking him to the ground and pulling him along the concrete. Within seconds, Tara zoomed in and forced the dog to retreat.

Jeremy, who KERO says has mild autism, received stitches to close wounds on his leg. The station's interview with him shows that while Tara has no tolerance for a dog messing with her boy, she has enough patience to sit for an interview with Jeremy — even if it means having her paw tugged on.

An edited version of the attack video, caught from different surveillance cameras, has been viewed more than 6 million times since it was posted to YouTube by Jeremy's father, Roger Triantafilo. He titled it, "My Cat Saved My Son." ( Update: The YouTube video was taken down today, evidently because Triantafilo wanted to remove some images — closeup photos of the boy's wound. We've replaced it on our post with KERO's version.)

Jeremy's mother, Erica Triantafilo, was in the yard when the attack happened, and the video shows her rushing to check on the boy. In his YouTube post, Roger Triantafilo says she then ran to the neighbor's yard to be "sure the dog did not return for a second attempt."

He adds, "The owners were there also, and she was bit by the dog as she tried to [pen] him in his yard. The owners did get control of the dog and secured him."

The dog had escaped his yard when the neighbors drove out of their driveway's gate, according to KERO, which says the dog's owners called 911.

As for the dog's fate, it seems that it'll be put down.

"Sgt. Joe Grubbs, Bakersfield Police spokesman, said the dog will be quarantined for 10 days then euthanized," KERO reports.

One final note: In an apparent response to comments from people who said the edited video looked staged, the full surveillance video has now been posted online.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.