Hero Dog That Lost Snout Protecting Two Girls in the Philippines Dies

The dog, named Kabang, became a media sensation in 2011.
May 18, 2021, 7:31am
Kabang hero dog philippines
Hero dog "Kabang" stands next to Filipino veterinarian Anton Lim shortly after their arrival from the U.S. at the international airport in Manila on June 8, 2013. PHOTO: TED ALJIBE / AFP

Memorial tributes are pouring in for a courageous canine that gained global fame in 2011 after she leapt in front of a motorbike that may have hit two young girls in the Philippines, losing her snout and becoming a media sensation in the process.

Filipino veterinarian Anton Lim said the famous dog, named Kabang, died on Monday in her sleep. Lim cared for her in the Philippines after she underwent surgery abroad. He announced the news in an emotional Facebook post the same day, saying he found a lifeless Kabang near her bed.

“You’re 13 years old or 91 in human years and I knew one day this would come. No matter how I prepared myself mentally, the suddenness of how you died, left a deep void in my heart,” Lim said in the post. “You have always been a hero, selfless to a fault.”

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Filipino veterinarian Anton Lim (C) carries "Kabang" wearing a U.S. red cross medal, during a press conference in Manila on June 8, 2013, after returning to the Philippines to a hero's welcome following surgery in the US to reconstruct her face. PHOTO: TED ALJIBE / AFP

Unlike prized breeds, Kabang is an “aspin,” a local name for a mixed breed found in the Philippines. Lim also called on Filipinos to adopt aspins in dog pounds and rescue shelters to honor Kabang.

His own tribute was shared more than a thousand times on Facebook, where the comments section brimmed with condolence messages.

“You’re 13 years old or 91 in human years and I knew one day this would come. No matter how I prepared myself mentally, the suddenness of how you died, left a deep void in my heart.”

In 2011, Kabang was living mostly on the street when she was credited with saving the two young girls from possible death or severe injury in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.

The girls, who were eleven and three at the time, were crossing the road when Kabang jumped out and shielded them from a speeding motorbike. The dog’s snout was mangled in the motorbike’s wheel, requiring urgent medical attention.

What should have been a local news story exploded, inspiring pledges to help from those inspired by her bravery. Lim had initially treated Kabang until he raised funds to send the dog to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine for advanced treatment in 2012.

A team from the university carried out a five-hour surgical procedure to close the dog’s facial wounds. After being all stitched up, she was returned to the Philippines, where she appeared in a press conference before Lim took her in.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, which said Kabang’s story was covered in 1,000 media outlets across the world, also remembered her in a Twitter post.

“Rest in peace, sweetheart,” it said. “Kabang came to us for treatment in 2012 and stayed in our care for 7 months. She was a courageous and loving dog. We’re pleased to see she had a long life after returning to The Philippines in 2013. Our condolences to Dr. Lim and all who cared for her.” 

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Veterinary medical student Heather Kennedy as she gets a greeting from Kabang the dog during her intake exam at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis, on Oct. 11, 2012. Kabang PHOTO: UC DAVIS / GREGORY URQUIAGA / AFP

Earlier this this year, a dog lover commissioned an artist to make a four-foot statue honoring Kabang. Lim said the dog’s remains will be temporarily placed in his backyard and then transferred to the statue once it’s finished.

“Thank you for the 8 wonderful lesson-filled years in loving life and loving unconditionally. I and my family already missed you, Kabang, even though you are gone for just a few hours,” Lim said in his Facebook post.

“May we see each other again,” he added.