CREATED Jul. 12, 2013
PALM DESERT - Some Valley dog owners have reported seeing rattlesnakes at University Dog Park. One owner in particular put up a poster of her Afghan hound on the park's main entrance. It reads that her dog, Marge, was bitten by a rattlesnake on July 3 and for other people to beware of this venemous reptile in the area.
"We've been using this dog park for the full three years that we've lived here in Palm Desert, and it's the nicest of the four dog parks because it's large and nicely kept up generally, but there's been some safety concerns and the number one safety concern are rattlesnakes," says dog owner, Randy Epstein.
He frequents the dog park every week and says he's afraid for his dogs.
"Last October, there were five snakes in a day and a half," says Epstein.
He adds that the snakes he has seen were hiding in the bushes.
"The shrubs surrounding here serve absolutely no purpose. They're purely decorative, and the low-slung shrubs are like a hiding place for the snakes," says Epstein.
Public Information Officer at the City of Palm Desert, David Hermann, says a maintenance crew trims the bushes at the park three times a week to keep the branches above the ground. This, he says, creates better visibility to spot any desert creature that might lurk there. The City also posted a sign on the entrance that warns people about "indigenous animals" living near the area.
So far, the City has not received any reports of any rattlesnake dog bites at the park, although Hermann acknowledges there has been a couple reports of the reptiles' sightings in the past year.
Veterinarian Lillian Roberts at the Country Club Animal Clinic treated two pets in 2012 for rattlesnake bites, and she advises dog owners to be alert at all times.
"They tend to come out first thing in the morning or in the evening, those are the most common times for dogs to be bitten. It's when the snakes are out, the most active because it's too hot for them in the middle of the day," says Roberts.
At first, rattlesnake bites in dogs aren't so visible, but then, the swelling becomes so large that they require surgery. The healing time can take a long time.
That's something Epstein wants to prevent in the future especially when it comes to his two dogs and his favorite dog park.
"The two solutions that I've propsed is the snake mesh fencing which goes around the perimeter and removing these shrubs where the snakes have been hiding," says Epstein.
For more information on California rattlesnakes and what to do in an event of a snake bite, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.