David Egger, Snake Proofing Trainer, said, "Dogs have the ability to learn very rapidly through association and repetition. So we're going to teach the dogs or train the dogs to associate the sight, sound and odor of a rattlesnake with an unpleasant experience. Therefore, in the future when they encounter a snake they will avoid the snake entirely."
Egger said the training is something for all dogs both inside and outside the city limits.
He said, "There's rattlesnakes inside the city limits of San Angelo, they're everywhere. This is very valuable to pet owners or dog owners in general but particularly the ranch owners who have herding breeds or hunting breeds, Pointers or Retrievers, who commonly encounter rattlesnakes."
After hearing about the training we put two dogs, one trained and the other untrained, to the test.
"As you could see with the darker brown German shorthair, who has not been through the training, went up there and put his nose right on the snake which would have gotten him bitten. The second dog you saw had been through the training and he would go four or five feet around the snake in either direction as a result of the avoidance training with the snake," said Dutton.
During the demonstration we used a frozen Western Diamondback snake. During this time, the dogs were not harmed and regardless if this was live or frozen it still worked. In addition to the training, a rattlesnake vaccine has been created to help your dog if it has been bit.
Dr. Ross Dutton with the Arden Road Animal Clinic said, "You know we've had snake proofing schools like they're going to have tomorrow but as far as medical prevention this rattlesnake vaccine is a pretty decent breakthrough."
Dutton said the vaccine is not meant to cure the dog but to slow the venom intake down so that proper attention can be sought.
He said, "The vaccine more or less tells the immune system 'Hey, chill out' and it also prepares the immune system with antibodies to more or less neutralize the venom."
Like Egger, Dutton agrees the training is important for dogs to receive.
Dutton said, "They need to know about snakes and alot of times the instinct of a dog is to go for it, attack it. So again, just a little bit of training that 'Hey if you hear that sound, if smell that smell, if you see that sight stay away from it.' "
So if you're not doing anything Saturday, why not protect your dog from one of the most unfriendly reptiles in West Texas.
The clinic will be held tomorrow at 8:30am. It's taking place at the San Angelo Clay bird Association located on Duncan Road off of Highway 67. The cost is $40 per dog and there are discounts if you bring more than one. For more information call 234-9250.