Hero dog takes rattlesnake bite to protect owner in North Port

NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) – The City of North Port Government received a report of a Diamondback rattlesnake biting a dog in the area of Price and Biscayne. 

The city has received two other reports of smaller snake bites in the past year.

Owner Sandy Ruggerio said the dog is a nine-year-old American Staffordshire named Beast.

She said Beast saved her and her two other dogs from being bitten by the snake in her backyard.

"He loves people, but he has to protect his mommy and his daddy, anybody that he loves," Ruggerio said.

Ruggerio heard the terrifying rattle, but never saw the snake until Beast boldly stepped in.

Beast killed the snake and remains at a veterinarian's office in Venice. The dog's blood cell count is low and Beast is still responding to treatment.

"Everybody loves Beast," Ruggerio said. "Beast is everybody's baby."

"He's a big, loving bear. He thinks he's a little dog, a little lap dog. He wants to sit in your lap. He gives lots of kisses."

The city is now offering tips to residents about Florida's poisonous snakes.

The Florida Poison Control Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.

Callers can send photos of the bite and/or the snake, so poison specialists can immediately determine the type of snake involved.

Poison centers can then work with hospital emergency staff to asses patients and administer the correct antivenom.

The city also recommends knowing the nearest emergency veterinary hospital, their hours of operation and whether the hospital carries antivenom.

You can find out more about Eastern Coral, Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin, Eastern Diamond, Pygmy, Canebreak and Copperhead rattlesnakes by going online to Florida's Poison Control Centers website.

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