Yakima pet clinics treating more dogs bitten by rattlesnakes

YAKIMA, Wash. -- More dogs are winding up on the wrong side of rattlesnakes around the Yakima Valley. Local pet clinics say they've been treating a lot more cases than usual.

Not once, not twice, but three times. That's how many times rattlesnakes have taken a bite out of Buster.

"I was really scared and it was at night," said dog owner Reesa Sutphin-Knutson. "It was dark. It was just a lot of barking and we couldn't see what was going on."

Buster's most recent pain came a couple of weeks ago. A snake sunk its fangs into his cheek.

It happened in Reesa Sutphin-Knutson's backyard. Reesa says she usually sees about one snake a year here.

"The first time, he just looked like he swallowed golf balls or tennis balls," said Reesa, "His face was all swollen and huge."

"After a period of time, the skin starts to turn purple, starts to ooze serum," said veterinarian Ken Lust.

Buster's not alone this year. Two pet clinics say they're treating more rattlesnake bites than usual. Last year, they saw a total of six dogs with rattlesnake bites. They've already treated 25 dogs combined so far this year.

"If you're antagonizing it, if you step on it, don't see it, they're in the hungry mode they're going to react," said Dr. Lust.

Dr. Ken Lust from the Summitview Cowiche Veterinary Clinic says keep your dogs away from rock bluffs and water. Dogs can be vaccinated ahead of time for snake bites. Lust vaccinates about 50 dogs a year.

Reesa is now vaccinating her three dogs.

"Every time we come out, I have to talk around the yard and see if there's a rattlesnake out there," said Reesa.

Most dogs can get treated for a snake bite with one vile of anti-venin. That costs around $500. The preventive vaccine costs $18 and lasts for a year.