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Gracie, the dog bitten by a rattlesnake in Laguna Beach, makes a full recovery

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A rattlesnake bite caused this wound to form on Gracie, a German short-haired pointer-Labrador mix.
(Courtesy of Kasey Konkel)

A rattlesnake bite could not keep Gracie down for too long.

The 7-year-old German short-haired pointer-Labrador mix has “completely healed,” her owner, Laguna Beach resident Kasey Konkel, said Wednesday. “We went on a 12-mile run last Saturday.”

It’s been more than a month since Konkel received a scare when a rattlesnake bit Gracie on the Park Avenue Nature Trail that leads from Alta Laguna Park to Thurston Middle School.

On the afternoon of March 20, Konkel was walking Gracie and two other dogs on their leashes when Gracie stuck her head in a wildflower bush.

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Seconds later, Gracie jumped back and Konkel saw holes where a rattlesnake’s fangs penetrated Gracie’s face. Konkel rushed Gracie to Laguna Beach Animal Hospital, where veterinarians gave the dog antivenom, antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

Gracie stayed there for two days, but her treatment lasted longer. Toxins in the snake’s venom caused her skin to die, leaving an open wound on her neck and jaw.

Veterinarians inserted a rubber tube into Gracie’s neck to allow the bacteria from the wound to drain. Gracie also received 20 stitches, which veterinarians removed last month.

With the stitches out, Gracie is back to her lively, active self.

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“The hair is growing back and the skin healed nicely,” said James Levin, veterinarian and owner of Laguna Beach Animal Hospital.

Levin said Gracie’s wound was more severe than other animals, who typically have bruises and inflamed tissue.

“Most dogs don’t have the fluid draining,” Levin said.

But even though the wound might have looked bad, Levin said by the time it formed, Gracie had survived through the most critical period after a rattlesnake bite — the first 48 hours.

The wound was a “secondary complication of the infected tissue because that venom is really strong,” Levin said.

Konkel now hopes her dogs learn tips to outsmart snakes.

She will take them to a rattlesnake avoidance training session May 13 at Acu Canyon Park in San Juan Capistrano.

Dogs will learn to detect and avoid rattlesnakes by sight and smell during the event, which is organized by Konkel’s friend, Suzanne Parker.

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Dog owners can register for 20-minute private sessions for $125 each. Training sessions will also be held at the same location, 27999 Camino Las Ramblas, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m May 20.

For more information, call (949) 295-5716 or email octailsontrails@gmail.com.

bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce


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