You would expect to find rattlesnakes out in the nation’s West sunning themselves by a river or slithering along the rocks, but when you say you had a rattlesnake in your backyard when living in a New England state, that is not something often heard. A rattlesnake in Massachusetts? Yes, a woman in Westfield, Massachusetts, has not only seen rattlesnakes (as in plural) in her backyard, but her dog is now fighting for its life after being bitten by one of the venomous snakes twice.
Bethany Smith, who became teary-eyed during her interview with Western Mass News, has watched her dog struggle from the symptoms brought on by the poisonous snake venom over the last few days. She spoke with the local TV news station in hopes of informing her neighbors in Westfield that the rattlesnakes are out there.
Her dog, a 4-year-old Boston terrier-pug mix named Bruiser, was out in their backyard with Bethany when the dog was bitten twice. She describes how the dog went out into the yard to do his business and a snake came up and got him twice in the face.
There is one snake bite mark on Bruiser’s cheek and he has one right under his eye. Bethany, who has three dogs, told the reporter that it was one of the scariest moments of her life. Once the dog was bitten it didn’t take long for the symptoms to began to show up.
The very upset dog owner said, “Within fifteen minutes, the white under his eye went up and over his eye, so he couldn’t see. He was trying to walk, he kept falling over to his side, he was trying to breathe, heavy panting.”
They took the dog to the emergency veterinarian clinic, where the dog was given fluids, but the dog’s condition is now a waiting situation. Today the dog is still lethargic and the swelling is still very much present.
Bethany has just started to see the rattlesnakes in her yard within the last year. While she is a mom of three dogs, she is also a mom of two children, so you can imagine how concerned she is as a parent and pet owner especially now that one of her dogs were bitten.
In the last few weeks rattlesnakes have not been a rare sight for Bethany, she is “seeing them everywhere,” said the very concerned mother and dog owner. The Westfield resident said, “We have this beautiful backyard. We eat dinner out there, we cook out there, we play out there, We do everything out there.” She tells her kids and pets to “stay near me,” and when her dog was bitten by the snake “this was near me, ” she said.
As far as her dog is concerned, the next 72 hours are crucial. Bethany and the family will keep a constant watchful eye on the dog, which is all they can do. The news reporter wrote that the “bond between this woman and her dog was obvious.” At one point she cried off-camera while telling the reporters how difficult the last few days were watching her dog struggle for its life. While she was crying her dog began comforting her.
Bethany said to the news reporter that people need to keep their kids and dogs close by and watch them while in the yard.
There are many people who have never seen a rattlesnake in this neck of the woods and because of that, they have a hard time believing they are here, but they are.
If you do a search on Google to see if there are rattlers in this area, you will find that while there are rattlesnakes in Western Mass, they are very scarce. It is rare to see one of these snakes as the population is so low they are considered an endangered species, according to the online information offered. According to Mass Live last year, There are only 200 rattlesnakes in the state of Massachusetts, which live in five isolated populations. They are “located in three areas: the Berkshires, the Blue Hills, and the Connecticut River Valley.”
A call to the local hospital in Westfield on Saturday morning revealed that Noble Hospital Emergency Department does not carry the anti-snake venom needed if someone is bitten by a rattlesnake. Another call to one of the bigger hospitals in the area, Baystate Hospital, revealed that they do carry the anti-snake venom for a rattlesnake, according to the receptionist in the emergency department.
According to Mass Live, the rattlesnakes are considered an endangered species. The total number of rattlesnakes in the state was estimated at 200 last year, which was an estimate offered by a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Mass Audubon reported that ther are only two venomous snakes that call Massachusetts home, one of those is the timber rattlesnake and their bite can be deadly. That is the only type of rattlesnake found in these parts. The other type of poisonous snake in the area is a northern copperhead snake, which is a rare snake in these neck of the woods.
According to local ABC News, a large rattlesnake was seen hanging around the outside of a home in Springfield in the middle of July and the police were called. While it is thought to be rare to see a rattlesnake in the state, it is not a snake you would traditionally see in a populated area like Springfield. You can see the Facebook clip on that snake below.
A campaign to build up the population of rattlesnakes in Massachusetts has met with much outrage from citizens. The snakes were going to be dropped into a rather isolated area of the state, as they are on the endangered list. This is known as the Timber Rattlesnake Quabbin Project. This latest incident of the dog being bitten in Westfield has added more fuel to that fire as seen in the post below. According to the last reports on this Quabbin rattlesnake re-population attempt back in April, the project had been suspended indefinitely, according to the Boston Globe.
[Featured Image by James Horning/Shutterstock]