Spike in Snake Bites Prompt Need for Pet Vaccine

Since the beginning of spring, veterinarians have seen an unusual spike in rattlesnake bites

By Tony Shin and R. Stickney
|  Tuesday, May 22, 2012  |  Updated 9:00 AM PDT
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The rattlesnake vaccine for pets costs less than 20 dollars and can save hundreds of dollars in treatment. NBC 7's Tony Shin talks with Alpine resident Bruce Rancourt and veterinarian Christina Gaines.

The rattlesnake vaccine for pets costs less than 20 dollars and can save hundreds of dollars in treatment. NBC 7's Tony Shin talks with Alpine resident Bruce Rancourt and veterinarian Christina Gaines.

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The number of rattlesnake bites has increased so dramatically in San Diego, several veterinarians are advising pet owners to invest in a rattlesnake bite vaccine.

Alpine resident Bruce Rancourt has been at the nearby animal hospital before because of a rattlesnake bite.

"My horse got bit by a rattlesnake, right in the face and I got a hound dog who has been bit twice," he said.

His terrier Annabelle is recovering after getting bitten a few days ago. The bill for Annabelle was nearly $1100.

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Since the beginning of spring, veterinarians have seen an unusual spike in rattlesnake bites, mostly involving animals in Alpine.

They’ve even seen a record six bites in one day.

"Once it gets warmer that's when the snakes come out," said Christina Gaines, DVM.

Gaines said people who live in rattlesnake prone areas should get their pets a rattlesnake vaccine.

The vaccine costs less than $20 and it'll reduce the effects of the venom and possibly save hundreds of dollars in treatment.

"So if your dog only needs one vial of antivenin, versus two or three vials, it does save you money and time, recovering in the hospital," Gaines said.

Rancourt said he hasn't dealt with a rattlesnake problem like this in years.

"Actually I had to kill four this year," he said.

Rancourt said homeowners with a lot of brush around their homes where rattlers like to hide should keep the brush down. 

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