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Two dogs are fighting for their lives and one was killed while trying to save their owner from a 6-foot long diamondback rattlesnake near the steps of her Lake Wales home.
Candy Sappington said her dogs started barking at the 6-foot-2-inch rattlesnake as she walked down the front stairs.
"As I stepped down the first step, she came from behind me and kind of pushed me forward," said Sappington.
She said the two puppies also started barking, and she watched in shock as the snake bit Maisy on the right ear.
Sappington was in tears as her two American bulldogs, Maizy and Tundra, fought for their lives at a vet in Winter Haven after they both were bitten by a 6-foot 2-inch rattle snake on Wednesday.
Sappington's 16-year-old son shot the snake with a .22-caliber rifle but not before his dog, Chubs, was also bitten as he tried to protect the boy's mother.
"Chubs was the aggressor," said Sappington. "He always protected everybody. He done what he had to do to protect me."
"My best friend, my dog. I cared about him a lot," said Sappington's son, Phillip.
The surviving dogs have each been given one vial of antivenin, which costs $700 per vial. According to the veterinarian, price is why only a number of animal hospitals stock the antivenin.
"All we can do is pray that the other two make it," said Sappington.
Sappington said it was difficult finding a facility that carried antivenin and would take all three dogs.
The surviving dogs have been in and out of a hyperbaric chamber in an effort to accelerate the healing process.