June 15, 2019 12:57 am
Updated: June 15, 2019 11:20 am

Okanagan family’s dog fighting for life after rattlesnake bite


It happened in a flash and left a family pet struggling to survive.

Ten-year-old Bella was bitten by a rattlesnake on the Rose Valley Trails in West Kelowna, according to owner Ken Unger.

Unger came forward to warn others that rattlers are already out in force.

READ MORE: Rattlesnakes are out of hibernation and more visible in Lethbridge

“The snake was about six feet in front of me and just started rattling its tail. So we just, of course, stopped on a dime,” Unger said. “But my dog had already passed me and had to come back and cross the snake, and I tried to get the snake off the trail. But my dog is just, she’s 10-years-old and not the swiftest anymore, so she got bit right on the paw.”

If a dog is bitten by a snake, veterinarians say that the animal should be rushed to the nearest clinic or hospital.

There are a couple of things that owners can do right after the bite occurs, according to West Kelowna vet Dr. Moshe Oz.

WATCH BELOW: How to protect your dogs from rattlesnakes

“Try to stop the vein and put on a tourniquet,” he said. “Not too, too tight. We need to be careful. Ice, if we have ice, but usually we don’t. And rush to the hospital. We take it from there.”

Unger is familiar with the trails in Rose Valley, but says this year, he’s noticed an increase in rattlesnake activity.

READ MORE: Snakebites kill around 100,000 per year worldwide. A charity is trying to cut that number.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say watch out for rattlers,” Unger told Global News. “It’s very rare that you see them, but this year my wife has come across a couple of them at the same spot as we saw this one.”

Bella has been given antivenin and continues to fight for her life.

READ MORE: This rattlesnake was decapitated — but it still bit a man and the venom nearly killed him

“She’s a family member of 10 years and now it’s a 50-50 chance right now whether she’s going to pull this one through or not, so its tough,” he said.

Rattlesnakes are more common in the Osoyoos and Oliver areas of the South Okanagan where it is hotter and drier in the summer, according to Dr. Oz.

“It’s so important to educate the community that snakes are here,” Dr. Oz said. “They are dangerous and we need to worry.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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