Heroic Canine


A pit bull mix that scared away a San Jose woman's attacker has been honored by the Animal Miracle Foundation. Maya, who's 5-years-old and weighs about 25 pounds, has been named the foundation's Hero Dog of the Year.

In addition to saving her owner from a violent attack, Maya "is a testament to the fact that the pit bull breed can be hero dogs just like any other breed," Colleen Paige, founder of the group, said in a statement. Based in Washington , the foundation is a non-profit that aims to improve public awareness about pet and wildlife issues. It sponsors National Dog Day and National Mutt Day to highlight the high number of dogs in shelters that need homes.

Angela Marcelino adopted Maya from Humane Society Silicon Valley when she was three-months old. She's proud Maya is being honored but was not surprised when the dog tried to protect her early on the morning of June 17. Without the intervention by Maya, the man who grabbed Marcelino outside her door last June "would have raped me," Marcelino said. "I cry sometimes when I hug Maya and ask her, ”what would I do without you?"

Marcelino recounted that morning. "I opened my front door and was about to walk inside when I saw someone's shadow out of the corner of my eye, I turned my head just as a man pushed me into my house."

"He was choking me with one hand. That is when I saw a white streak run in from the other room. His grip was so tight that I could only gurgle the words 'Maya, get him.' He still had a grip on my throat, as his other hand was busy trying to fight off my angry dog."

"I don't know how, but I managed to get on my feet. His attention turned away from Maya for a second so that he could push my front door open and Maya followed. At that point I grabbed him in the groin as hard as I could. He doubled over and released the grip around my neck. I pushed him away and grabbed Maya by the collar."

A drop of blood above Maya's right eye was later tested for DNA by investigators, which led to the arrest of Anthony Easley. Maya has been resting up - perhaps for the next time she's needed to protect her owner.