Rattlesnake Attack Leads to $10,000 Vet Bill

Pet owners: She got rattlesnake vaccine

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Unusually warm temperatures are bringing out snakes all over the area, even in homeowner's backyards. Humans are urged take precautions not to get bitten - and now that warning is extending to pet owners.

    Curious dogs and cats out for a stroll are showing up in veterinary clinics, bitten and in need of care - just like 8-year-old Sallie. Bandaged and barely able to stand, she is recovering from multiple rattlesnack bites.

    Rattlesnake Attack Leads to $10,000 Vet Bill

    [DFW] Rattlesnake Attack Leads to $10,000 Vet Bill
    After their dog was attacked by a rattlesnake, an Austin family is facing a $10,000 vet bill. (Published Tuesday, May 18, 2010)

    "Her arm was really contorted, she couldn't use the arm, she was walking on three legs," explained Jay Peterson, Sallie's owner.

    She was bitten in the backyard of her owner's West Austin home. Quick-acting venom attacked her skin.

    "About 90 percent of her left arm has all the skin removed from it," Peterson added.

    Peterson and his wife rushed Sallie to the emergency pet clinic, where veterinarians quickly injected her with $700 worth of anti-venom - doses doctors are dispensing almost regularly.

    "It's not uncommon to have two or three or four or five in week," said Dr. Austin Donner, a veterinarian at Animal Emergency Clinic of Central Texas in Round Rock.

    Reptile researchers say rattlesnakes are common in Texas, and climate is the cause.

    "It's not too hot, they're looking for food, they're looking for mates," explained Tim Cole, owner of Austin Reptile Service .  "It's breeding season."

    Sallee is the second Peterson dog bitten by a rattlesnake.

    Already wary of what lurked in their yard, they took precautions and got Sallie the rattlesnake vaccination.

    Even though Sallie wasvaccinated, she has ended up in the surgeryl room every day, getting procedures to clean her wounds.

    Sallie's vets said the vaccine is potentially a life saver but not a 100-percent guarantee.

    "It is still recommended that you see a veterinarian. You may still need anti-venom. We don't want to get a false sense of security," Donner added.

    Donner recommends walking pets on a leash when outside or corralled in a fenced area - two precautions the Petersons plan on using, now that saving Sallie is costing more than $10,000.

    "It's sad. It's really sad. She is such a good dog," Peterson gushed.

    Sad, and a situation they don't want to deal with again.

    Sallie's prognosis is good, and doctors said she will most likely undergo skin grafts in the coming weeks.

    In the meantime, Sallie is staying in the hospital under the watchful eye of staff.

    Her owners visit her several times a day.