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Letter to the Editor: Be forewarned of rattlesnakes in Hahamongna

Local resident Bobbi-Lynn Riley Caparella writes to warn others after her dog, Orion, above, was bitten by a rattlesnake in Hahamongna Watershed Park at about 1 p.m. Saturday, despite the fact he was on a leash and in her control, and the rattler was neither heard nor seen at the time.
(Courtesy of Bobbi-Lynn Riley Caparella)

On Saturday, Aug. 24, at approximately 1 p.m. my dog, Orion, was bitten by a venomous snake in Hahamonga Watershed Park. I did not see or hear the snake, but my dog suddenly started yelping and swiping at his own muzzle.

There was some blood and I thought it was a bee sting or a spider bite. It started to swell, and I immediately put him in my car and drove to the emergency veterinarian. The vet said it was a snakebite and Orion is being treated and will hopefully recover. He was placed in the animal ICU for at least two days and nights.

The incident location was approximately across from the La Cañada High School swimming pool, near the picnic tables and restroom facilities. It’s a popular area for families, dogs and Frisbee golfers.

My dog was leashed during our entire outing and we merely stopped for a water break. I don’t know where the snake came from or where it went. I learned later it was a rattlesnake. There was no sound to indicate its presence. The area was very shady. I thought snakes liked to bask in the sun. Shade, no audible rattle and a leash makes it even more shocking that my dog was bitten by a poisonous snake.


I don’t recall seeing any signage for snake dangers in that particular area. I’m aware that we live in an area that has venomous snakes. However, it was a complete shock to me that snakes were in these picnic areas. And my dog was right next to me! As a veteran, 20-year professional dog trainer I am always advocating for leashes to my clients, especially on hikes or walks in the woods. It’s pretty scary that I took every precaution to keep my dog safe and yet, he was bitten by a snake.

I felt compelled to get the word out. Hopefully, the public can be made aware of venomous snakes lurking everywhere in Hahamonga park. Not just in the sun and not just off of trails, in tall grasses or bushes. And hopefully my beloved dog will pull through this tragedy.

Bobbi-Lynn Riley Caparella
La Cañada Flintridge