July 7, 2014 7:36 pm

Snake bite sends dog to hospital

LETHBRIDGE- It’s something no pet owner ever wants to watch their beloved pet go though.

Lindsay Letcher still can’t believe her three-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever had to be rushed to the Family Pet Hospital over the weekend after a snake encounter.

“It was the most terrifying moment of my life, I wasn’t sure she was going to make it,” said Letcher.

The young dog, Rhea is still recovering at the pet hospital with extensive injuries.

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“You can actually see where the fangs hit, one above the eye and another below. Initially it was just swollen in that area, but as the venom dissipated, the swelling dissipated as well and now her whole head is swollen,” says Dr. Jacob Adserballe with the Family Pet Hospital.

Letcher was walking her dog in the off leash area at Popson Park. It wasn’t until they were headed home, they realized what had happened.

“At first I thought it was just a mosquito bite, then my friend said I bet it was the rattler. Sure enough her eye started to swell and we rushed her to the Family Pet Hospital. She didn’t even yelp, we didn’t hear anything,” adds Letcher.

Snake bites can cause serious injury to dogs- and can even turn fatal sometimes.

So far this year,  the Family Pet Hospital has already treated four dogs for snake bites.

Rattle snakes are natural to the river valley, and they inhabit the areas where dog runs are located.

“Typically, snakes are common between May and October. They are natural to the river valley, and we wouldn’t relocate them from areas down there unless they were in a yard or at a playground,” adds Senior Bylaw Officer Dave Henley with the city of Lethbridge.

Letcher says the whole ordeal happened within seconds, and with such serious risk of injury to pets, she would like to see more options for dog runs, “I think it would be nice to have a run that isn’t in the river valley. Those of us who have large dogs, they need room to run and exercise and be off leash,” adds Letcher.

City officials say the best location to avoid rattle snakes is the dog park along Scenic Drive.

The city of Lethbridge has a snake hotline to deal with the unwanted serpents, but its only used in certain situations.

“If you have a snake in your yard or on a playground we will come and relocate it, but we won’t take a snake out of the coulee if that’s its natural habitat,” adds Henley.

Rhea will recover, but for Letcher it’s been a scary situation she feels could have been prevented.

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