A rash of rattlesnake sightings are being reported around San Diego County, but one encounter turned ugly for a local man and his dog.
Las week, Alex Martinez and his one-year-old Alaskan Malamute Bella were on a hike at Mission Trails Regional Park with Martinez's friend and his dog when their excursion took a near fatal turn.
Martinez had Bella on a 6-foot leash. They had hiked for two miles when they went off the trail for a few feet.
Martinez and Bella walked near some rocks, and as he looked to get around a partially flooded river crossing, a 4- to 5-foot rattlesnake lunged at Bella.
"The strange part was we heard no rattle," said Martinez.
Soon after, Martinez's group ran away from the now-rattling snake.
Initially, Martinez wasn't sure the snake had actually bitten Bella.
"Ten minutes later, we saw the swelling and the blood bursting out," said Martinez.
Martinez rushed to get off the trails. He found a ranger, who directed him to a vet with antivenin.
The wound swelled to the size of a tennis ball, but the doses of antivenin saved Bella.
Officials have seen a rise in rattlesnake sightings around the county, and on a Facebook page for a La Mesa pet emergency hospital, the hospital listed five rattlesnake bites late last week.
Martinez is grateful Bella will be OK, but he regrets not giving her rattlesnake vaccine and not keeping her on the trail.
Rattlesnake vaccines involve an initial treatment and booster shots.
Bella's vet bills have totaled $2,000 and more surgery could be needed to close up the wound.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help with Bella's bills.