Family seeks help after dog bitten by rattlesnake

Central Florida family uses YouTube to solicit donations

TAVARES, Fla. - A Central Florida family has turned to YouTube to seek assistance in paying medical bills for their dog, which was bitten by a rattlesnake and has been in ICU for nearly a week.

Cali, a chocolate Labrador, was likely bitten by a eastern diamondback rattlesnake while digging in a wooded area in Tavares.

Jacob Schmitt said Cali collapsed in the front yard of his family's home six days ago.

"She was just laying there.  She couldn't stand," said Michael Schmitt, who took Cali to an animal hospital at the University of Florida that specializes in snake bites.  "The doctor said she received more poison than they had ever seen."

Doctors gave Cali 16 vials of antivenin, the most they've ever given a dog.  The snake was never found, but vets told Schmitt it was a large eastern diamondback.

The family has amassed more than $8,000 in medical bills and created a YouTube video seeking $1 donations. At last check, the site had raised more than $4,000. The Schmitt family's four sons are also doing odd jobs around the neighborhood and earned $110 on Wednesday.

Michael Schmitt said his wife has picked up extra shifts at Disney World and his four sons have passed out fliers as they seek odd jobs.

"She's an awesome dog," Jacob Schmitt said.

Cali improved Wednesday, and the Schmitts said she may be able to return home by the end of the week.

Dr. Michael Shaer is one of the physicians treating Cali and says although he hopes to release her by Friday, she's suffered four major regressions and considers her condition on an "hour-by-hour" basis.

"It's a special kind of medicine," Shaer said. He said he's treated four snake bite patients in less than a week. Shaer says dog owners should stay close to their pets to keep them safe.

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