A 16-year-old boy says his dog made all the difference when armed intruders busted into his house on Wednesday. It happened just after noon, in the 1400 block of South 234th Street in Des Moines.
Javier Mercado was home alone with his German Shepherd, Rex. He gives his loyal companion all the credit for saving his life.
"I feel like if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here today telling you this story," said Mercado.
He says around noon, he heard a noise and looked out a window. He saw a car he did not recognize.
"I heard the sliding door break, and it is made out of just glass so it shattered really loud," said Mercado. "My dog ran downstairs, and it just started barking and barking. I heard one guy scream, 'the dog bit me, get the dog.'"
Javier grabbed his cell phone, hid in a closet, and called 911.
"I could hear my dog, like, really close to me in the bathroom with me, just barking. And the man comes upstairs," said Mercado. "I heard one gunshot and several after that, and my dog just cried after every shot that hit him."
He wanted to rush to Rex's side, but the dispatcher told him not to.
"I thought he was dead for sure. I broke down," said Mercado.
By the time police officers arrived, the intruders were gone. Mercado spent nearly an hour hiding in a closet before it was safe to come out.
Then he received a call telling him Rex was still alive. His dog had been taken to BluePearl, an emergency pet hospital, in Renton. Rex had gunshot wounds in his neck and hind legs that required surgery.
For Mercado, the relief that his dog even survived was followed by the reality that his family does not have the money to pay for Rex's medical bills.
"I was worried, my parents were worried. My dad said he was going to start working every Saturday, saving up," said Mercado.
But in a short amount of time family, friends and the community have come through with a fundraiser for Rex. A GoFundMe page was started, and already thousands of dollars have been raised.
Mercado is so grateful. All of his focus right now is on his German Shepherd.
"That he just pulls through everything and comes home," said Mercado.
That's his hope for Rex, now hailed the "Hero Dog."