Snake-Bitten Dog Recovering in Virginia

By Jane Watrel
|  Monday, May 24, 2010  |  Updated 10:00 PM EDT
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Fairfax County Snake Warning

Wendy and Brad Vieau

Border collie Luke was bitten by a copperhead while playing in the front yard.

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Snakes in the Grass Causing Big Problems

Authorities report an ususually high number of copperhead snake sightings and non-fatal bites to humans.

Fairfax County Snake Warning

An unusually high number of copperhead snakebites have been reported in Fairfax County.
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Fairfax County, Va., officials are reporting an unusually high number of copperhead snake sightings and non-fatal bites to humans. In one recent incident a Clifton family said their beloved pet dog was attacked outside their home.

Ten days ago, Luke the border collie was playing in the front yard when he was bitten by a copperhead just a few feet from the front door. Luke went back inside bleeding and not putting any weight on his paw, which soon swelled to the size of a baseball.

"I might see one every six or seven years, that's how uncommon it is," said Raymond Van Lienden, the veterinarian that treated Luke.

Luke recovered thanks to medication. There was no anti-venom in the area.

Clifton is in rural Fairfax County. Earlier this month, a man was bitten by a copperhead in the area. He also survived, but it prompted authorities to warn county residents.

Normally, reports of snake bites and sightings don't peak in Virginia until August through October.

There's been no explanation for the increase in copperhead bites and sightings, but experts are urging residents to keep their lawns and property mowed since the snakes like tall grass, stay on sidewalks and park trails, supervise children at all times, and keep dogs on leashes.

While death from snake bites is rare, authorities said if you, your child or your pet is bitten, get immediate medical attention.
 

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