TAMPA, Fla. - When Mike Gallagher moved from Ohio to Florida, he had to leave behind was his pets' veterinarian and he hadn’t yet found a new one when a coral snake presented a potentially deadly situation. But the coronavirus - and social distancing - made finding an open veterinary clinic almost impossible.
Now he's warning other pet parents to form a plan in case their pet needs emergency care.
Gallagher and his dog, Lola were having a day just like any other, but it took an unexpected turn.
"This morning I had gotten up and, like she does every morning, she circles the pool and runs around out on the deck. And I had heard her barking… and I went out to see what was going on,” he recalled.
That's when Mike knew Lola had come face-to-face with one of Florida’s most dangerous reptiles.
“Here she was in a stand-off with a snake. Only 18 inches, maybe 24 inches at the most, not a big snake, but the snake was drawed back, she was barking at it, and they had been going at it for a little bit so I wasn't totally sure what all had happened, but I quickly pulled her back in the house and I went out to remove the snake,” Gallagher said. "I managed to get a couple of shots of it and thought it would be a great social media post and that's when I started getting the message that was no king snake, that was a coral snake which are deadly.”
Was Lola bitten? Gallagher knew he needed a vet, fast, but because of closures due to COVID-19, help was not readily available.
"I made a few phone calls, and sure enough, with COVID-19, she was considered an emergency case and not all emergency rooms for pets are open, but I did manage to get her in front of a couple of vets," Gallagher said.
Gallagher and Lola were lucky. It turns out she was not bitten. But he believes, as we continue to fight the novel coronavirus, we should also make plans for our pets if they get into trouble.
"It's changed the world in ways we are not even thinking about... and we forget about the pets. They're there, they're loving and they're with us and right now, going through COVID-19, I can't image my life without Lola," he said.
Their story is frightening, but a good reminder to check with your local veterinarian, and have an emergency plan for your pet.