Dog bitten twice by copperhead in Virginia Beach while protecting family

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Last Monday, one Virginia Beach dog went from getting head scratches to going head-to-head with a venomous copperhead snake.

16-year-old Milisa Perez was at home with her two dogs when she noticed something was wrong with Bella, a pit bull mix. Her neck was severely swollen, and she looked like she was in a lot of pain. Her first thought was that Bella was having an allergic reaction to something she ate, but when she went outside, she walked right up to the carcass of a copperhead snake.

“My heart stopped. I got so scared. I started panicking,” Perez said.

When the snake slithered into her family’s backyard, Bella leaped into action to defend them. Unfortunately she sustained bites on her neck and nose during the encounter.

“She was definitely being protective because the snake was on the porch, close to the entrance way onto our deck, which would have let it right into our house,” said Milisa’s mother, Lisa Perez

When they took Bella to the vet, they were surprised to face a $4,000 bill before the vet would even treat her.  

“I started getting worried when they had me sign a waiver whether to resuscitate her or not. It was really scary,” Lisa Perez said.

They paid the hefty bill, because to them, Bella is part of the family. Despite their fears, she has made a full recovery. Her owners are thankful that Bella jumped into action, as their other dog, a Shitzu named Happy, likely wouldn’t have survived such an encounter.

“She saved us, and she saved the little dog,” said Milisa Perez.

The Perez family isn’t alone when it comes to snake encounters. There have been other reports of snake encounters in the Washington Square neighborhood off of Laskin Road and on her Nextdoor app. Lisa Perez is worried about the safety of others in her neighborhood.

“I really get worried because there’s a lot of kids in the area that just walk around and play, and for it to come right into our own backyard was really scary.”

Virginia Beach Animal Control can only respond to situations like this if there is a snake found in a home. All other responses go to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. To keep your home snake-free, they recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Keep your lawn trimmed short and eliminate debris that snakes could hide under.
  • Make sure your house is rodent-free so they don’t attract snakes looking for a snack
  • Seal all areas around pipes, vents, or other small openings so snakes can’t slither in.
  • If a non-venomous snake does enter your home, place a bucket over it, then slip a board underneath so you can carry it outside.

For more information, click here.

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