PHILADELPHIA (NBC News)–A woman still dealing with the loss of her brother has a new companion: the dog who tried to protect him during a home invasion.
Nakia Pyatt, 41, was shot and killed by armed robbers during a home invasion Jan. 16.
NBC Philadelphia said Pyatt’s dog Rhino, a 7-month-old Boxer-pit bull mix, tried to defend his owner and was shot in the leg.
Rhino was taken to the Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center (VSEC) in Philadelphia. Staffers found a bullet in a hind leg and another object, either a bullet or fragment, lodged nearby.
Dr. Ron Ben-Amotz told NBC 10 the bullet was embedded in soft tissue in Rhino’s leg.
“He’s putting weight on it and getting around well. He’s wagging his tail and looking pretty happy,” Ben-Amotz said.
Pyatt’s sister, Ivory Poinsett, is a mother of three. She said her brother had previously suggested she take Rhino to protect her family–and she had declined the offer.
She changed her mind after her Pyatt’s death.
“We know how much my brother loved his dog,” Poinsett said to NBC 10. “Everywhere my brother went, the dog went. He would have wanted me to have the dog.”
Poinsett created a GoFundMe page to help pay for Rhino’s medical care and ultimately reached her goal of $2,800.
The dog is expected to make a full recovery, but further checkups will determine whether he will need surgery.
Rhino was still healthy enough to leave the hospital and go home with Poinsett and her family.
“It’s been a horrible month,” Poinsett said. “But Rhino’s been giving us all peace so I’m kind of happy that the doctors are clearing him and he’s normal again. I mean, he still has the bullets embedded in him, but he’s still a happy, big boy.”
For Poinsett, Rhino is more than a dog–he’s a way to keep her brother’s legacy alive.
“My brother always said he would be there for us,” Poinsett said. “So when Rhino survived, I felt that he had left him behind to watch over us and give us peace.”
No arrests have been made in Pyatt’s death. Police continue to investigate.