Rattlesnakes are coming out of hibernation and your Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) is reminding pets (and their people) that they can avoid snakebite by following a few simple rules.
"Sunset is when you're most likely to encounter a rattlesnake," said RCHS spokesman John Van Zante. "People need footwear that gives protection. Keep your dog on a leash and on a well-used trail. And carry a stick. Hitting the bushes can scare snakes away."
Other basic rules tips can save pets and their people:
* Don't go places where there are likely to be snakes
* Don't put your paws, hands or feet where you can't see (like under a log or rock)
* Look before you leap. Step on a rock or log instead of jumping over it
* Take your cell phone for emergency (not to talk or text while you hike)
* If you stop to rest, look before you sit
* Be careful around water. Snakes can swim and they look like sticks in the water.
* If you see a snake...leave it alone!
Van Zante says that a rattlesnake's strike distance can be one third to one half the length of its body and it's faster than a human eye can see.
What should you do if you or your pet are bitten by a rattler? "Probably most difficult, try to remain calm. If you panic or run, that spreads the venom faster. And get to a doctor ASAP," Van Zante said.
Try to remember what the snake looks like. Your veterinarian or Emergency Room will want to know how big, what color, shape of head, and anything else you can tell them.
"We've also heard of people who pick up what they think is a dead snake, only to find that it's resting. And even if it's freshly dead, the bite-reflex can still be there. Leave it alone," Van Zante added.
And that old myth about sucking the venom out of a snake bite....That's a myth.
To find your new pet or to learn more about pet safety visit Rancho Coastal Humane at 389 Requeza Street in Encinitas, call (760) 753-6413, or log on to