"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."
~ Mark Twain

There are 196 visitors online

Pit Bull saves owner

September 25, 2009

Pit bulls are always earning notoriety as fighting dogs, attack dogs and all around vicious canines, but East Lincoln's Phil Hemby has one specimen of the square-headed breed earning a new name for itself.

And that name is lifesaver. Well, not quite ...

Shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, Hemby stepped out to take Slim, his 2-year-old pit terrier, for a joy ride in his Yamaha Rhino ATV around the Hemby Farms chicken houses off Townsend Drive. But the normally docile dog was in a rage - barking, snarling and driving him back - and wouldn't let him approach the machine. Hemby said he thought the pit had turned on him, but then the reason for the commotion became clear.

Slim wouldn't let Hemby approach the ATV because coiled beneath the vehicle's rear end was a nearly 4-foot Copperhead, Hemby said. The snake made a run for it and Slim was on him, taking the viper in his mouth and performing the classic canine kill by shaking it violently from side to side.

"Today was my lucky day, buddy," said Hemby, 44, a former minister at Union Baptist Church. "When I went to let the gate down, I would have stepped right on top of that thing. It may not have killed me, but who wants to be snake-bit?"

Hemby said he was proud of Slim, whom he described as a playful yard dog who loves chasing balls and rolling in the grass with the Hembys' nieces and nephews. Hemby raised Slim from a puppy, when the dog was given to him by his stepdaughter, 18-year old Copiah-Lincoln Community College student Tara Paden.


East Lincoln's Phil Hemby keeps a tight grip on Slim, his 2-year-old pit bull terrier, while displaying a nearly 4-foot copperhead the dog prevented his master from stepping on before dispatching it with a hard bite and a few shakes of the head.

With pit bulls having such a poor reputation and being seen as unsafe, killer dogs, Hemby said he felt compelled to tell the story of how Slim protected his master. The sour news about the breed almost got to Hemby, who grabbed a shovel off the porch and was about to strike Slim down during his fit over the snake before he realized the dog was just looking out for him.

"There's nothing ever good that comes out in the news about these dogs," he said, sitting on the back of the Rhino holding a happy Slim with one arm. "He protected me. He killed the snake. I couldn't get him away from it. It took me 10 minutes to get him off of it.