Rattlesnakes generally go into hibernation as early as October and come out in January or February. But due to the Coachella Valley’s mild climate, they’re a threat to humans and pets year-round.
In California, rattlesnakes bite more than 800 humans a year. However, the number of dogs bitten is much higher. They can strike faster than the blink of an eye.
“If you just take two steps back your fine,” said Carl Person who has worked with snakes for more than 30 years. “The problem with dogs is they’ll go up and they’ll smell them. They get bitten in the face and it’s an instant disaster.”
Karen Singleton can teach dogs to avoid rattlesnakes in less than 20 minutes. She uses a special collar to train the dogs.
“And then the dog becomes an early warning system for the human,” explained Singleton.
Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes are most common to the Southland, but in the Coachella Valley you’re most likely to see a Red Diamond Rattlesnake. The dogs can use their senses to distinguish between different types of snakes. Human can tell, too. Venomous snakes have triangular heads and thick tails.
“I hear reports that the dog will go home and avoid the garden hose, when the sprinklers go on they’ll jump,” said Singleton.
The training sparks different reactions from dogs, however all of them know to avoid the rattlesnakes.
Veterinarians do offer a vaccine, but Singleton says the first line of defense is training your dog to be aware before it’s too late.
Singleton will offer rattlesnake avoidance dog training Saturday, February 21 at North Lykken Trail in Palm Springs. The class is 95 dollars. Click here to visit the website and sign up.