Sunday, December 21, 2014

Paws for Thought: Beware of rattlesnakes

Pit bull Bernie wears his furry heart on his “sleeve” and gets plenty of love from Zachary, Brendan, Neil, Evan and Reed. Claire Tauriainen and her husband Andy adopted Bernie from Rotts of Friends Animal Rescue. Courtesy photo

From page A3 | June 19, 2012 |

Do you and your canine companion like to hike? If so, watch out for rattlesnakes. Rattlesnake season started back in March and area veterinarians report an unusual number of pets being bitten by rattlesnakes, with some incidents causing death.

California rattlesnakes are found from sea level to inland prairie and desert areas and at elevations higher than 10,000 feet. While dangerous if startled or provoked, rattlesnakes are important to our ecosystem as they eat rodents, reptiles and insects and provide food for other predators. So if you encounter one, give it room so it can retreat.

Safety first

* Canine avoidance training can be a safe and humane way to teach your pet to be wary.

* Consult your veterinarian about the efficacy of rattlesnake vaccinations.

On the trail

* Pack your cell phone and contact information for nearest veterinarian.

* Leash your dog and stay on the trail.

* Look, listen and watch your step.

* Always survey a resting area. Rattlesnakes like rocks, fallen logs, and water. Yes, they can and do swim.

* Stop if you see or hear a rattlesnake and slowly back away.

At home

* Remove tall grasses, leaves and woodpiles. Pick up fallen fruit that attracts rodents and their rattlesnake predators.

* Install special snake fencing.

* If a rattlesnake enters your home, phone Yolo County Animal Control, (530) 668-5287, immediately.

If your pet is bitten, keep calm. Go immediately to the nearest veterinarian. Venom travels through the circulatory system, so carry or walk your pet to a vehicle for quick transportation.

Learn more at:

Rattlesnakes in California:
Rattlesnake avoidance tips:
Rattlesnake aversion training:
Spike in rattlesnake bites:
Snake facts:

Happy tails: Claire Tauriainen has volunteered at the SPCA in Oakland and Concord and visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. She and her husband, Andy, wanted to adopt a canine family member that may have been misjudged because of its breed or appearance.

Claire writes, “Andy researched breed tendencies and pre-disposed behavior, and found that many of the scary warnings we’d heard about pit bulls simply were not true.

“When I told Renee (at Rotts of Friends) about us, she said … Bernie was the first one who came to mind. Bernie had never had his own family. He lived in the Yolo County shelter, and then was transferred to Rotts of Friends. I really had my heart set on a girl dog until I met Bernie. He is affectionate, easy-going and gentle. We all instantly liked him! And I quickly got over the fact that the ratio of girls to guys in our house would now be 1:8.

“Bernie is smart and very motivated to learn our house rules. For a dog that had never lived in a home before, I was amazed at how quickly he learned to let himself out through the dog door and to wait (impatiently) for dinner. He knows that he has to ‘sit’ while waiting for supper, but is usually so excited that he vibrates around on his behind on the floor.

“We feel very lucky to have Bernie in our lives and hope that other families can open their hearts to a new canine kid. If we’d judged Bernie strictly on his breed or appearance, we would have missed out on having a wonderful addition to our family.”

Ways to help: Attend Rotts of Friends Animal Rescue’s Martinis & Mutts event Saturday. For information, visit

— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare; her column is published monthly. Reach her at



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