The 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 been overwhelming.
Almost a week after the Triantafilos posted video of the incident on YouTube, it has garnered more than 20 million views. The family from a Bakersfield, Calif., neighborhood has sat for TV interviews and fielded calls from as far as Hong Kong, 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 during TV interviews. She is even scheduled to "throw out" the ceremonial first pitch at a Bakersfield Blaze minor-league baseball game tonight.
Erica's husband, Roger Triantafilo, said he edited the video from the family's home-security cameras, and posted it on YouTube — his first — for family and friends to see. He never anticipated the flood of attention. The footage taken last Tuesday afternoon starts with the dog wandering near the family SUV in the driveway where Jeremy is riding his tricycle. A few seconds later, the dog suddenly comes around the vehicle and grabs Jeremy's ankle, pulling him from the bike.
Within seconds, Tara sprints into view and rams into the dog before chasing it away. Soon after, the cat returns to the boy as he is aided by his mother.
The dog, which had never attacked the family in the past, even took a bite at her, Erica said.
"It was just awful," she said. "It is something no mother should have to experience."
Jeremy, who received 10 stitches for a deep bite wound on his leg, told Bakersfield's KERO-Ch. 23: "Tara is my hero."
The cat's intervention was made all the more surprising given her typically laid back demeanor.
"Usually she's just very laid back, very mellow, very loving," Erica said.
In an interview with Inside Edition, Roger called Tara a hero.
"If she hadn't intervened it would have been possibly worse," he said.
The owner of the 8-month-old male Labrador-chow mix voluntarily surrendered it to the Bakersfield Animal Care Center. Bakersfield police Sgt. Joe Grubbs said the dog will be quarantined for 10 days before it's put down.
As for Tara's baseball debut?
A spokesman said the team originally invited Jeremy to throw out the first pitch, but media coverage led fans to think the feline was somehow handling the honors.
"It's what the people want, and you've got to give the people what they want," said Philip Guiry, the Blaze's assistant general manager.
He said Jeremy will also be throwing a stitched-up ball.
"Stitches get stitches. That's our motto," Guiry said. "And I'm downloading all the songs from Cats to play in the background."
Contributing: Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, New York Daily News