A bruised and battered south Georgia woman credits a wayward German shepherd with rescuing her after her car careened down an embankment, tossing her through the rear window and leaving her sprawled, cut and bleeding, on the vehicle's trunk.

Thirty-six-year-old Shannon Lorio said the dog, which has since been given the name "Hero," pulled her by her collar off the trunk and dragged her about 50 yards through briars to the edge of a highway and let her lean against him so that she could stand up and flag a passing motorist.

Officials of the Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society, which runs the local animal shelter — now Hero's temporary home — were so impressed with the victim's account they have arranged to have Hero evaluated for search and rescue work.

"That dog is always going to have a special place in my heart," Lorio said Friday during a tearful reunion with the dog. "He's my hero."

Lorio, who still has scratches and bruises on her arms and legs, spent most of a night in the hospital, until she insisted on being released. She still walks with a limp. Cuts on her left elbow are held closed by more than 20 metal staples.

She had her first reunion with Hero yesterday, when she arrived with her mother-in-law with gifts for the dog, including a large pillow, a stuffed animal and a bone almost as big as a rolling pin.

When Lorio returned today, she hugged and kissed Hero as he plopped down on the pillow and began crunching the bone with his strong jaws.

She said — quote — "If he ever needs anything, I'll be there." She said she can't adopt Hero because she already has six dogs.

But, she said, "If I did adopt him, he'd be treated like the king he is. That dog is always going to have a special place in my heart."