CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Vets in southwest Florida are warning pet owners to watch out for snakes. They're seeing a spike in the number of dogs being attacked by the reptiles, likely a result of recent heavy rain.
Charlotte Fischer of Punta Gorda lost her dog "Bullet" to a rattlesnake bite last week. "He was my baby boy. I loved him dearly," Fischer said, "and, he got struck by a big, fat rattlesnake. I'm heartbroken."
Fischer found him in her yard, barking, with blood on his face. She rushed him to the E.R. But, hours later, her companion and family member was gone. " His little body couldn't handle it," Fischer said. "It's very hard. I don't want to get up in the morning because he's not here."
Dr. Clark Campbell at the Port Charlotte Veterinary Emergency Clinic said that in the last month, they've seen at least five snake bites.
"Much above average," Campbell said. "Two, I say, would be a high month during the season. So, to see five is markedly increased."
He thinks heavy rain last month pushed the snakes out of their territory and into ours, meaning pet owners need to be on the lookout. "Diamondbacks, pigmy rattlesnakes and cottonmouths are the ones we mostly see up here," Campbell said.
Fischer's friend made her a special necklace in memory of "Bullet" that she wears every day. "It's got the tree of life, a B for bullet, my heart, his heart, and a little sparkle," she said holding it in her hands.
While she's still hurting, she hopes her story will save other pets."I loved him with all my heart," Fischer said. "Out of all the dogs I've had throughout my life, I loved him the most."
There are a few things people can do to keep themselves and their pets safe. Check your yard before letting animals out. Also, clean your yard and make sure there's no debris or brush where snakes tend to hide.