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Hero cat thrusts Bakersfield family into global spotlight

Video of cat saving son goes viral, propels Bakersfield family into world spotlight
Tara, the cat that saved boy from dog attack, gets plenty of love on YouTube

The Bakersfield parents of a 4-year-old boy who was saved from a dog attack by the family's cat, Tara, say the worldwide attention the viral video has generated has "just been insane."

Within two days of the Triantafilos posting the video of the incident on YouTube, the video had garnered nearly 17 million views, propelling the family from a modest suburban Bakersfield neighborhood to worldwide fame.

They have sat down for TV interviews with major news programs and fielded calls from as far as Hong Kong and Ireland since posting the video Wednesday, said Erica Triantafilo, whose son was attacked by the neighbor's dog.

"It's just been insane," she said.

Tara, however, hasn't been fazed by the spotlight, appearing calm and purring during live interviews. She is scheduled to "throw" the ceremonial first pitch at a Bakersfield Blaze minor league baseball game on May 20.

"She is just getting love," Triantafilo said. "She's mostly being loved on."

It all started on Tuesday afternoon when her son, Jeremy, arrived home from school and decided to ride his brother's bike.

That's when a neighbor's dog dashed toward Jeremy, attacked his ankle and pulled him from the bike. 

Within seconds, Tara sprints into view on the family's survelliance cameras and rams into the dog before chasing it away from Jeremy.

Soon after, the cat returns to the boy as he is aided by his mother.

"It was just awful," Triantafilo told The Times. "It is something no mother should have to experience."

The dog, which had never attacked the family in the past, even took a bite at her, she said.

Jeremy required 10 stitches as a result of the attack and is recovering.

After hailing his cat as a hero, the tabby was quickly dubbed by the media as Tara the hero cat.

The owner of the 8-month-old male Labrador-Chow mix voluntarily surrendered it to the Bakersfield Animal Care Center, the Bakersfield Californian reported.

Bakersfield police Sgt. Joe Grubbs told the paper that the dog will be quarantined for 10 days before it's put down, noting that "it's not adoptable, for obvious reasons.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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