Hero Dog Dies After Attacking Gunman, Protecting His Family During Shooting at Birthday Party

Hero Dog Dies After Attacking Gunman, Protecting His Family During Shooting at Birthday Party
Javian Castenada, pictured left, is accused of shooting up a Houston family's birthday party on March 10 and killing their dog, Zero, pictured right. (Harris County Sheriff's Office and Laura Martinez)

In a birthday party shooting that left three wounded, a dog bravely attacked the gunman that was threatening the lives of his family. But the dog took a few bullet in the process. The suspect has since been identified by authorities.

The shooting took place on the night of March 10 at Davenwood Court near Scarsdale Boulevard in Houston, Texas.

Laura Martinez, who was hosting a birthday party at her home, was in shock.

“This is not something we would ever think was going to happen,”she said.

Laura’s daughter, Valori Pace, also commented, “I’m staring at the whole scene around and it almost feels like a dream.” 

The person suspected of pulling the trigger is no stranger. The family said they have known the suspect, Javian Castaneda, 17, for years. He is a friend of their kids. They described how, after a recent burglary of their house, they suspected Castaneda was responsible, and decided to confront his parents.

Javian Castenada, the suspected shooter
Javian Castenada, the suspected shooter has been identified by authorities. (Harris County Precinct 2 Constable’s Office)

The family said that days later, Castaneda showed up to their home during the birthday party with a gun. He started an argument that escalated to gunfire.

“I went to go turn to run and I just feel instant pressure in my lower back. Put my hand back there and I realize there was blood all over my hands,” Pace said.

Immediately, the family dog, Zero, jumped into action but eventually was killed while trying to protect his family. The labrador has been dubbed “Zero the Hero” by his loving family. A small memorial was planted in front of their home and grows in his honor. 

When the attack ended, Martinez and two of her children had been shot. Martinez recounted how, every time the gunman took aim, Zero pounced on him, and repeatedly got up to attack, taking multiple bullets.

“I honestly believe if Zero had not kept jumping on him, he would’ve been able to get shots higher than our legs,” Martinez said.

The family say they are now still living in fear that Castaneda could return. The teenager is still missing. They hope that the police will be able to apprehend him or that Castaneda turns himself in quietly. Police believe he is in hiding and is considered armed and dangerous.

“We don’t want anyone else to get hurt. We don’t want to get hurt. We don’t want you to get hurt,” Martinez said. 

The family is recovering from their gunshot wounds but mourning the death of their beloved dog.

Do Animals Grieve Their Owners’ Death?

The dog’s heroic act ended tragically when he took a few bullets to save his owners, unfortunately the alternative may not have been any more desirable.

According to The Nest, dogs need care when their owner dies.

“If an animal’s human companion suddenly disappears, it can be confusing, and can even lead to depression,” wrote Lisa McQuerrey.

Animals can form an emotional bond with their caretakers and can even go in search of them when they don’t find them around.

They can exhibit signs of grief by “acting out, demonstrating behavioral issues like destructive chewing, clawing or digging, or suddenly having accidents in the house. Exceptionally sensitive animals may hide, be unwilling to eat, interact or engage with other humans.”

Pets need care when their owner dies. In the United States, there are organizations that care for the pets after their owner dies.

An organization called Animal Friends has admitted 16,263 animals since 2006 that arrived after their owner died, according to the Post Gazette.