PALM BAY, Fla. – A family lost two of their dogs in a rattlesnake attack, feet from their porch, right next to a child’s playhouse.
The family raced to save their pets, but the venom was too strong. Now, they want more people to know the risks from rattlesnakes.
Meredith Killeen says she came outside into her backyard because she heard her dogs going crazy. That’s when she saw both of them huddled together.
She didn’t see the snake at first but heard the rattle. She went into survival mode to get the venomous snake out of her backyard.
“Who would imagine there is a rattlesnake in their backyard attacking?” said Meredith Killeen who’s still in shock and mourning the loss of two out of three family dogs.
The rattlesnake attack was deadly for Minnie the Yorkie and Sadie the Dachshund who are remembered in a growing memorial in the Killeen’s living room. Both are also buried in the family’s backyard, and the rattlesnake encounter is something they’ll never forget.
“It was so fast. Her eyes were rolling up in her head. She was not, wasn’t good,” Killeen added when describing her dog’s reaction to the venom.
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Vets tried to save them, but the venom was vicious. Sadie’s mouth nearly doubled in size before she died because that’s where she was struck.
“It struck so fast. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she added. “Total shock. Total shock. I’m still in shock. I’m traumatized by it.”
Killeen knows snakes live in Florida, but this attack hit too close to home.
“Normally, it would have been the three dogs and my three-year-old grandson – that’s the wolf pack in my house,” the grandmother added. “They would have been all out there together, and the outcome could have been even more devastating.”
She was able to kill the snake after it struck her dogs, but her shock escalated when the snake didn’t stop moving.
“The headless body slithered over to the head and neck and bumped up against it. At that same time, the head turned itself over and opened its mouth. It still wasn’t done,” she exclaimed.
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Snake experts at the Brevard Zoo say this was an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and is common in Florida. The animal was most likely displaced.
“You might see them a little more frequently, especially in places that are being developed,” said Mack Ralbovsky who’s a curator of animals with the zoo.
Rattlesnakes help control rodent populations in Florida. You can avoid having one hiding in your yard or shed by getting rid of leaves and other yard debris. Also, keep a close eye on pets and small children, even in fenced backyards.
“How many people let their kids go out in their backyard? You let them out, open the door and it’s no big deal. They go in their little playhouse and there could be something deadly in there,” Killeen concluded.