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Labrador Alfie bitten on face by adder during walk at Riverside Country Park, Gillingham

A woman is calling for people to stay alert with their dogs and young children after her pet was bitten on the face by an adder.

Kellie Lewton was walking in Riverside Country Park, Gillingham, with her black labrador Alfie when they came across what is Britain’s only venomous snake, sunning itself on the path in front of them.

Mrs Lewton, 43, was behind 14-year-old Alfie, but did not notice the reptile blocking their path until Alfie went out to give it a sniff and the adder bit into the side of Alfie’s face.

Adders can be found in various parts of the county. Stock picture
Adders can be found in various parts of the county. Stock picture

The dog groomer said: “I tried to pull Alfie back when I realised it was a snake but I was too late.

“I used to work in a vets so I knew to keep calm. I put Alfie on the lead, took him to the car and left.”

"If Alfie had been a smaller dog that bite could have killed him, and it would be unthinkable if a child got badly bitten” - Kellie Lewton

She went straight to Vetsnow on Gillingham Business Park, as it was open on bank holiday Monday.

“His whole face swelled to twice the size, he was panting, salivating and clearly in a lot of pain. It was awful. He had to have 18 hours of fluids, morphine and anti-venom.”

Mrs Lewton drove to Canterbury to get her hands on anti-venom.

“One of the staff would have gone when they realised theirs was out of date, but I wanted to get it quickly and not take them out of surgery,” she said.

“Few vets have it because it is hard to store and doesn’t last long, so that’s something for people to be aware of too.”

Anti-venom is not always necessary but is does relieve the pain quicker and speeds up the healing process.

Mrs Lewton, from Rainham, is now calling on people to take care, especially as the weather improves and adders bask in the sun.

“If you suspect your dog has been bitten then take it straight to the vet for emergency treatment,” she said.

“I’m sure people know they are there, but it’s easy to forget. If Alfie had been a smaller dog that bite could have killed him, and it would be unthinkable if a child got badly bitten.”

A spokesman from Medway Council’s Greenspaces team said: “We haven’t seen an increase in the number of adders in the park, however they do tend to bask in the sun to raise their body temperature to survive.

“We advise people to take due care and if a person or a pet were to get bitten, they should seek medical advice.”

The treatment set Kellie and husband Roy back £1,050. “It was more expensive because of the bank holiday and I chose to have the anti-venom which was £500 on its own.

"I actually didn’t renew our pet insurance on Alfie just this year because he’s getting so old, which is typical really.”


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