SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA) — A beloved rescue dog died of a rattlesnake bite outside his San Clemente home, and now his heartbroken owners don’t want anyone else’s family pets to suffer the same fate.

Duffy, a 7-year-old Cocker Spaniel, had followed his owners out to the driveway of their San Clemente home Sunday morning and suddenly let out a loud yelp and dashed back inside.

The Cadiz family thought Duffy had been stung by a bee. But his face and neck started to swell, and Duffy came down with a fever. They took him to a veterinarian 45 minutes later, where Duffy went into shock and he died.

“Had I known that there has been a problem with the snakes, I might have thought it was a rattlesnake and taken him in right away, but I didn’t know,” Dawn Cadiz said.

(credit: CBS)

The veterinarian told the family Duffy’s was not an isolated case. Just before Duffy came in, the veterinarian had been treating another dog for a rattlesnake bite, and in the past week five dogs were treated for similar snake bites.

Anti-rattlesnake vaccines are available, but do not inoculate dogs from the venom – rather, they give dogs more time to be taken to a veterinarian for treatment.

The pain of losing Duffy prompted Cadiz to go on Facebook and issue a heartfelt warning to other pet owners about the danger from rattlesnakes.

“We don’t want this to happen to somebody else’s pet,” she said tearfully. “It’s so hard. It doesn’t need to happen.”

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