A mature rattlesnake is placed out in the open at Gansner Park in Quincy during Rattlesnake Aversion training June 12. Photos by Mari Erin Roth

Local canines learn caution for poisonous reptiles

Erick Briggs leads his tiny student into a simulation of dangerous territory for training purposes.

Rattlesnakes were brought into Gansner Park on June 12 on purpose, to facilitate a Rattlesnake Aversion training that takes place each year for local dog owners and their charges.

Local pet owner Karen Hayden was instrumental in bringing the trainings to Plumas County. “I read about the aversion training by Natural Solutions and learned that they traveled around the State holding trainings,” said Hayden.

Taking the initiative the local said, “I contacted them and they added Plumas County to their annual schedule.” That was in 2008. Hayden has been handling the scheduling and arranging a suitable location for the event ever since.

Once dogs are acquainted with the sometimes noisy reptiles, retraining is suggested each year to keep the canine information fresh.

“Thirty dogs were trained today,” said Hayden.Regular rattlesnake vaccines can give a pet owner a longer lead-time to get an animal to the vet if they have been bitten.

Locally, the vaccines range from $21 to $40 per shot with a series of two shots recommended for the first inoculation. Anti-venom is $450 in Taylorsville, not including hospital and doctor fees, but can run as high as $3,000 in Reno. Not all vets carry the expensive elixir.

“We get two or three dogs bitten a year,” said Quincy veterinarian Dr. Gary Klement, who does not carry the anti-venom at his hospital. “The vaccine is a weakened form of the venom, which can help a dog build up immunity to a bite,” said Klement. “A medium to large-sized dog can sometimes survive a bite” with proper immune support.

That’s still a deal when you consider, “A human bite by a rattlesnake can cost $300,000 to $500,000 to treat,” said Natural Solutions owner Erick Briggs.

“I am a dog owner and I enjoy coordinating workshops. I felt that this potentially lifesaving training should be offered to all dog owners who could attend,” said Hayden.