Hero Dog Saves Owners From Rattlesnake

Shakira strikes a gallant pose after saving her owners from a rattlesnake.
Photo by John Forysth

John Forysth and his wife Diane Castañaon received a Father’s Day gift from an unexpected source last Sunday. While hiking Mt. Tamalpais in Marin, California, the couple’s 13-month old Anatolian Shepherd, Shakira, stopped suddenly in the trail. On high-alert, Shakira quickly reversed her footing, forcing her owners to come to a perplexing stop. Unbeknownst to John and Diane, a rattlesnake lay in wait just inches from their feet.

Shakira suddenly jumped backwards and went immediately into a stiff alert posture with her tail and ears up,” Forsyth said. “She kept backing up into my wife and would not let her pass. My wife looked over Shakira’s shoulder and spotted this snake right on the trail exactly where she was planning her next foot strike… By stopping my wife in her tracks, she prevented her from the danger.

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This rattlesnake slithered away before trouble ensued. Not all dog and snake encounters are so fortunate.
Photo by John Forysth

Shakira’s quick action saved not only John and Diane from potential danger, but she may have saved herself, too. Due to dogs’ smaller sizes and the current lack of an infallible antivenin treatment, rattlesnake bites are 25 times more dangerous for dogs than people.

The best way to ensure your pup’s safety is careful hiking; always look before you step, and keep your dog close while in snake populated regions. If your dog goes on high-alert for a seemingly unknown reason—check it out before continuing on. You never know what might be lying in the grass.

If your dog does have an unfortunate snake encounter, here are 4 tips from Petmd.com to keep in mind:

  • Try to identify the snake by taking note of its size, color patterns and the presence or absence of a rattle at the end of the tail.
  •  Look the dog over carefully for fang marks, noting that there may be more than one bite wound.
  •  If the bite is on a leg, wrap a constricting band on the affected limb snugly at a level just above the bite wound (on the body side of the wound). This band could be fashioned of a shirtsleeve or other fabric and should be snug but not excessively tight. The compression around the limb will slow the spread of the venom. The dog may lose the limb but that is better than losing his life.
  • Start your journey to the nearest animal hospital while trying to keep the dog as quiet as possible.

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