Veterinarian warns of copperhead snakes after service dog gets bitten

It was a typical walk in the park for Rick Kaplan and his service dogs-in-training on Monday, when Bobo, Kaplan's 4-year-old Lab mix, suddenly gave a loud yelp and jumped straight up in the air.

"And I rushed to the spot where he squealed and sure enough, there was a coiled copperhead snake," said Kaplan, founder of Canine Angels, an agency that provides service dogs to disabled veterans.

The snake had bitten Bobo on the dog's paw.

The dog was immediately in severe pain, Kaplan says, and losing consciousness fast.

"We rushed Bobo to the car. He was in agony, screaming and squealing and crying. The leg swelled up instantaneously."

Kaplan took Bobo to Grand Strand Animal Hospital, where Dr. Amanda Thomas gave him pain killers, antibiotics and medicines to treat the shock.

Bobo was suffering from a severe allergic reaction to the snake venom that can be deadly for some pets.

"It also affects their organ systems, that venom will be toxic to their kidneys, to their liver," said Dr. Thomas.

As it happens, Bobo was the second dog Thomas treated for snake bite on the same day, which she says is highly unusual for November.

"Why we're seeing them at this time of year, I'm really not sure."

Thomas says it's hard for pet owners to avoid snakes. There are about a half dozen venomous species in South Carolina and it's impossible to know exactly where they'll be.

As for Bobo, two days after his snake bite, there's still some swelling in his leg and he walks gingerly, but he's expected to make a full recovery.

"We're making progress. He's in great spirits, he's got a good appetite and we all feel extremely blessed and fortunate to have him," Kaplan said.

Thomas's advice for pet owners.. use caution when walking your pet.. and realize that a snake bite is a serious medical emergency.. and your pet needs to be taken to an animal hospital right away.