With several local species of live rattlesnakes from the Santa Clarita Valley area, Redemption Road K9 held a rattlesnake avoidance seminar Saturday for about 35 local residents and their dogs.
The event was intended to educate the public on the types of snakes to be mindful of and what to do in the event that you encounter one, along with training dogs to avoid the sight, sound and smell of a rattlesnake.
Redemption Road K9, a working dog company, hosted the event with the help of wildlife conservationist and zookeeper, Jungle Jordan.
“Even just with the knowledge these people get here today they’ll be able to take it back to their family, friends and loved ones and I think we’ll be saving a lot of human lives and dog lives,” said John Anthony, trainer and owner of Redemption Road.
Experienced trainers and handlers, including canine behavioral consultant Tanya Yarbrough, worked with the dogs one-on-one, focusing on their body language and reaction to a snake.
The event, which cost $25 for those in attendance and is only offered once or twice a year, provided lectures throughout the day about snake awareness, and then had attendees hear from professionals in the field about what to do in the event their dog is bitten.
The rattlesnake avoidance training company SnakeWorx led a station that featured muzzled rattlesnakes. Dog owners were allowed to have their dogs encounter a live snake and be trained to avoid it. Once the snake, whose bite was rendered ineffective by having its mouth closed by two bands across its jaws, reared its head on the dog and lurched out, the dog would receive a small shock from a shock collar, according to Dave Dooros, one of the Snakework trainers present.
“A rattlesnake is going to cause a lot damage to the dog,” said Dooros. “It’s going to disfigure the dog, potentially kill the dog and it’s going to be a $2,000 vet bill. So this is for the dogs’ safety and it’s like teaching a child to not put the hand on the stove when it’s hot. We’re teaching the dog to come up to the stove, and telling them it’s hot before they get burned.”
Melissa Lopez was in attendance at the event not only for the education about different types of snakes in Santa Clarita and to learn about their importance to local ecosystems, but also to learn more about how she can help people in her professional work.
“I’ve been living out in Agua Dulce for few years now, and I work at a vet clinic and I just see enough rattlesnake bites and kind of the cost of it … and the thing I’m most paranoid about is my dog getting bit by a snake,” said Lopez, who was in attendance with her dog Beowolf. “Most people react in fear from them, and they tend to freak out and freak out their dogs…so that’s why I’m out here promoting this amazing information.”