Lori Hale has lived in Strasburg for eleven years and has never seen a rattlesnake - until now.
Saturday, her dog Kiowa suffered a venomous bite from a rattlesnake. The dog was walking around the border of their rural backyard when it happened.
"She just happened to have her nose in the ground, like she usually does," Hale said.
Hale says she heard her dog scream but didn't know it was a rattlesnake bite until the veterinarian told her what happened.
"She looked terrible," Hale said.
At the time, Kiowa's face and throat swelled.
"I was scared, I was worried," Hale said. "I mean, honestly, we didn't know if she was going to make it through. We didn't know if she was going to make it through the night."
Randy Hampton, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says rattlesnakes are drawn to areas with water. He said that when conditions are dry, the snakes are are drawn to areas where people are more likely to encounter them.
"I just have to keep a close eye on her now," Hale said.
Hale wants other dog owners to do the same. She also wants them to know that there is a vaccine to help protect against rattlesnake bites.
Veterinarians say the vaccine wasn't meant to work against rattlesnakes in Colorado. It was designed for snakes in California, which is why it is not always recommended by Colorado vets. Animal professionals recommend consulting with your vet or clinic about a vaccine for your dog.
The vaccine is recommended once a year, in spring.
Hampton says rattlesnakes are most commonly found east of I-25 on the eastern plains. However, some can be found on the western slope and in southeast Colorado.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)