LETTER: Don’t blame the snake when a pet dog is bitten

SCALES OF JUSTICE: Stories of pet dogs being bitten usually accompany the beginning of the snake season. But is the snake really in the wrong?
SCALES OF JUSTICE: Stories of pet dogs being bitten usually accompany the beginning of the snake season. But is the snake really in the wrong?

AS is customary for this time of year, stories about dogs and cats being bitten by snakes are starting to pop up (“Pet dog bitten by tiger snake”, Western Advocate, October 17).

With it comes the barrage of hostile comments from people, macho posturing about shovels and 410s and more negative press for snakes.

It's tragic and expensive financially and emotionally to have a much-loved pet bitten by a venomous snake, but you can't level blame at the snake.

I love dogs and have grown up with them all my life (as well as snakes), but let's get real here. The snake is not the aggressor or the instigator in these situations.

As much as people want to paint their dog in a positive light, dogs are not protecting people by attacking snakes.

A snake passing through a yard unmolested by a dog is not searching out people to bite and the dog doesn't know a snake is any more dangerous than a rat, a blue tongue lizard or a bird.

It is following its natural inclination to hunt, play or protect its yard. Just as the snake is following its natural instinct to protect itself the only way it can when it's been set upon by a large animal and is going to be killed (which they usually are).

Killing snakes around the place in order to protect your pets is not an effective way to stop your pet from being bitten if you live in snake habitat areas.

You are at best only going to ever see a small percentage of the total number of snakes that pass through your property, so it’s pointless and unnecessarily risky to yourself.

You need to address the underlying reasons the snake is there and remove food and shelter sources where possible, train your dogs to not go after small animals or, if this is not realistic, then construct a snake-proof yard using snake/rodent mesh (make sure there are no overhanging shrubs, etc as tiger snakes are habitual climbers). 

These are the surest, most effective and safest ways to prevent your dog being bitten by a snake.

Here's hoping for no more dogs being bitten by snakes!

Jake Hansen, Orange