A warning has been issued for anyone who goes to Shawnee Mission Park after two copperhead attacks on dogs in two months.
Dave Smith says his dog, Max, was protecting him from a copperhead when they were walking up the trail at the dog park last week as they were heading home.
One week after that sudden snake attack, Max is still licking his wounds.
"I saw it first and jumped back. My dog jumped on it and got bit once," Smith said.
The copperhead struck again in the same paw after Max lunged for it. The effect of the bites were immediate.
"It started swelling up pretty fast, and after 20 yards, he quit walking and shut down," he said.
This was the second snake attack in two months at the Shawnee Mission dog park. A field biologist with Johnson County says this doesn't happen often and points out hundreds of thousands of pet owners visit each year without incident.
Still, he warns pet owners to be careful.
"The habitat that copperheads are found in is a rocky woodland, and Shawnee Mission Park is a rocky woodland. So whenever folks take their dogs outdoors, they really need to be cautious of all the hazards," field biologist Matt Garrett said.
Dog owner Sarah Duell says she is already cautious.
"I probably wouldn't do anything differently. I really just keep him on the path and let him stay close to me," Duell said.
Max is recovering after being treated with antibiotics and painkillers. Smith said he will keep bringing his dog to the park.
There have only been two deaths from copperhead bites in Missouri's history.
Last month a 50-year-old southeast Missouri man was bitten while trying to get a snake out of a tent near the Current River. Friends say he was unconscious within 15 minutes and died the next morning at the hospital.
Experts say death is rare with a copperhead bite, and it may have triggered an undiagnosed heart condition.
If a snake does bite anyone, experts say follow these tips:
Call 911 immediately.
Try to remember the color and shape of the snake, which will help with treatment.
Stay still and calm to slow the venom.
Lie or sit with the bite below heart level if possible.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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