When Adam Pearl Sr., of Idaho, decided six months ago to be a hero to this orphaned baby squirrel, named Joey, he never expected that the once-helpless youngster would one day go on to return the favor.

But that's exactly what little Joey did.

Adam Pearl Sr.

"Some friends of ours found him in a flower bed. They didn't know how to take care of him so they gave him to us," Pearl told The Dodo. "We got him before his eyes were open, and bottle fed him. Now he just runs the house."

Adam Pearl Sr.

The full extent of Joey's loyalty to his adoptive parents, and the home they share, wasn't known until recently.

Last week, Pearl was returning from work when he noticed mysterious footsteps in the snow leading through the yard to his house. As his suspicions piqued, Pearl surveyed each room and discovered that not only were a few things missing, there were pry marks on his safe β€” a tell-tale sign that a burglar had been there earlier.

Fortunately, Joey was OK. But what Pearl didn't know at the time was what the squirrel had done to stop the intruder.

Adam Pearl Sr.

Pearl called law enforcement to report the crime, and when the officer arrived, she spotted Joey running around inside and asked if he bites. "Not usually," was Pearl's reply. The officer clearly took note as she departed to begin the investigation.

Just a few hours later, Pearl got a call saying the burglar had been apprehended. During routine questioning, the officer had noticed scratches on the man's hand and asked if a squirrel had done it. The man said yes, adding that the attack had been relentless.

Joey had left his mark β€” and that helped crack the case.

Adam Pearl Sr.

Pearl, whose stolen items were later returned, credits the squirrel with putting an end to the crime in progress.

"Joey attacked him and he didn't want any more of that. So, who knows what he could have gotten away with?" he said. "I have had dogs in the past, and I really don't think they would have protected the house the way Joey did."

Adam Pearl Sr.

In the end, the rescued squirrel turned out to be a hero, too β€” proving that the love shown toward animals in need is sometimes paid forward in the most unlikely of ways.

"Joey is a part of the family," Pearl said. "I think if you open your heart, you can find family in all shapes and sizes. We take care of each other. I'm just lucky he entered our life and likes it here."