Emili Coringrato’s 8-month-old heeler, Lucie, died June 2 after being bitten by a rattlesnake less than a half mile southeast of the north F Street parking lot.
Afterwards, Coringrato’s mother, Julieanne Shepherd, who was walking Lucie that day, wondered why there are no signs in the area warning of rattlesnakes.
“No one said a word about that area having rattlesnakes in the year we’ve lived here,” Shepherd said.
If there had been a sign, Shepherd said, she wouldn’t have taken Lucie and their other dog, Ravi, a 3-year-old heeler, to that area in the first place.
Shepherd said she learned only after the fact that the area east of the river is a place where rattlesnakes are found.
Coringrato was out of town, so Shepherd walked the dogs that morning southeast of the bridge, a place where they had taken the dogs before. Shepherd said the snake, which was “pretty big,” was in the middle of the road and bit Lucie on the nose when the puppy went to sniff it.
Lucie was unconscious within a minute and stopped breathing about 10 minutes after being bitten, Coringrato said.
“This is a real tragedy that could have been prevented had we just known,” Shepherd said.
“It was the saddest day of my life,” Coringrato said.
Dog trainer Laura Pintane said the best way to avoid such incidents is to train dogs to avoid snakes.
Pintane will conduct a snake avoidance workshop Saturday and another on June 30. For the classes Pintane brings in a specialist from the Front Range, who uses a bull snake to teach dogs to steer clear.
“It’s a matter of life and death,” she said.
The training worked on her dog, Pintane said, and is very effective.
She can be reached at LaurasDogTraining@msn.com.
A vaccine is also available for dogs, Pintane said, which helps dogs produce antibodies that can guard against snake venom and slow down the venom if a dog happens to be bit.
In addition, Pintane said, dog owners should avoid areas with rattlesnakes, such as Piñon Hills and Tenderfoot Mountain.