The old saying goes that a dog is a man's best friend, but in the case of a German shepherd named Smokey, it seems the reverse is true.
Curled up on a couch in his Altoona home Thursday afternoon after a vet appointment, Smokey, a 7-month-old pup who suffered a rattlesnake bite to his snout Tuesday, looked a lot less swollen.
Smokey was on his way to recovery - thanks to the advice of a State College veterinarian, the love of his family and the good vibes sent his way from area residents touched by his story.
More than 12 people called or e-mailed the Mirror after the pup's run-in with a reptile made headlines. His owners said Smokey likely saved one of their lives.
"I'll help. I'll do anything I can," Hollidaysburg-area resident Patty Sheetz said. "I'm just such an animal lover, I would do anything I can to help people out."
"I would of paid for it," an employee at Resilience Tattoo in Ivyside Plaza, who goes by the name of Chachy, said of Smokey's care. "Once I seen the picture, I was like, 'Oh my!' Ya know what I mean?"
He said everyone at the tattoo parlor wanted to make a donation.
"I know if that was my dog, I would do whatever it took," tattoo parlor owner Bob Hecker said.
The pup was bitten while on a family walk at the bottom of the Allegheny Portage Railroad Trace Trail Tuesday, and by Wednesday, his snout was severely swollen.
The family could not afford to get the animal a $700 dose of antivenom, so they treated the bite with Benadryl at the recommendation of Dr. Mark Koshko, a veterinarian at Metzger Animal Hospital of State College. He has treated dogs for such bites in the past and is the closest vet that carries the antivenom.
Koshko saved the pup's life, Altoona Veterinary Hospital employee Meg Eardley said.
"Dr. Koshko was willing to give information that saved the dog's life without expecting anything in return," she said. "Yeah for him!"
Dr. Nour Hassane of Altoona Veterinary Hospital treated the pup Thursday afternoon with antibiotics.
"He's not in bad shape at all except for slight swelling in the muzzle," he said. "All the vital signs look wonderful."
Smokey got through the critical stage, which was the first few hours after the bite, and he is scheduled for a checkup next week, Hassane said.
To help the family, Hassane only charged them a minimal fee Thursday and offered to wave next week's appointment fee.
Giving Smokey the antivenom now is pointless, and the chances of him losing a limb or part of his snout is not likely, Koshko said.
"It's always a very rare possibility, but it's not probable," he said. "I have only seen one case in eight years that had a leg removed because of a wet bite."
A wet bite contains venom whereas a dry bite does not.
Sandra Crider, whose son, Shawn Reeseman, owns the pup, said she didn't think Smokey got a full dose of venom from the snake.
Smokey's family is grateful he survived and thankful for the outpouring of support for their pet.
"God bless each and every one of them who had concern for him," she said. "Thank you and God bless."
"To all the pet owners out there, we say God bless you," said Crider's boyfriend, Bucky Chamberlain. "He's a good dog."