ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A woman is thankful her three dogs are alive after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

She even tried to fight the snake off herself to save her dogs. Shortly after they were bitten, she and a neighbor raced them to the hospital.

It happened while the dogs were playing in her backyard in a rural area outside Aurora in unincorporated Arapahoe County. They began barking wildly, but it was another sound their owner became worried about.

“You can hear it. I mean you know the sound. It’s just the sound and your ears perk up and say ‘oh my,’” the dogs’ owner Bennie Frans said.

It was a rattlesnake her dogs had encountered just before the pandemic.

News of a child dying this week from a rattlesnake bite stirred questions about the snakes and their dangers.

Frans vividly recalled unsuccessfully trying to move the snake away with a shovel and save her pets. But not before the rattler was able to bite all three dogs.

Veterinarian Kevin Fitzgerald treated the dogs and says the bites were serious.

He’s a staff veterinarian at the Alameda East Veterinary Clinic.

“They were bad. The hallmark of rattlesnake bites is tremendous swelling,” Fitzgerald said.

Vets here treat at least one snake bit a week during the summer. He said owners should beware as dogs will go after snakes.

“Dogs are bitten on the face more than 90 % of the time. They put their face down and get nailed,” Fitzgerald said.

He treats many dogs with an anti-venom and has studied rattlesnakes extensively.

Keep dogs on a leash when possible he says and keep them away from areas with prairie dog colonies.

“Pay attention when the dogs bark, pay attention and be alert,” Frans said.

That attention is the reason she believes her dogs are still alive today.