NORTH OGDEN -- It was a traumatic first week of school for a family and their beloved dog after a brush with rattlesnakes and a race to save the poor pooch's life.
Eliza Johnson, 15, came home from school and let out Peanut Butter, a 6-year-old Shih Tzu, into the backyard like any typical day. Eliza heard yelping and saw the little dog running back to the house with blood coming from her right eye.
Peanut Butter had been bitten in the eye by a rattlesnake. At first the family thought the dog had been pecked in the eye by one of the neighbor's chickens. After getting back from the vet, Eliza discovered that a rattlesnake had made its way inside the outdoor dog kennel.
Shawn Johnson, Eliza's father, captured the snake and kept it inside a metal barrel.
Johnson then found two more snakes on his property.
The Johnsons rushed the dog to their local vet, who recommended they immediately take it to Advanced Veterinary Care in Salt Lake City to receive an anti-venom injection.
Shawn Johnson admitted that he expected the worst.
"For a human, the snake venom is pretty deadly; imagine what it could do a small dog like that," he said. "When they told us to get her down to Salt Lake, I supposed there was maybe a chance."
They were relieved to find out later Peanut Butter would survive the bite, although her right eye was beyond saving and would have to be removed.
"A one-eyed puppy is better than no puppy," Johnson said.
The Johnson family lives on Mountain Road, with the wilderness to their backs, so they're no strangers to wildlife.
"We respect nature," Johnson said. Other animals have wandered into their yard, including rabbits, deer and even a moose.
Whenever the Johnson kids find bugs in the house, rather than squash them, they trap them and let them go outdoors. When they go fishing, it's always catch and release. They also own several other pets, such as turtles, rats, birds and a frog.
Rather than kill the rattlesnakes, the Johnsons opted to contain them and release them to the state Division of Wildlife Resources.
Rattlesnakes are a protected species, and it is illegal to kill them.
This isn't the first instance of a snake attacking a dog this summer. In late July, a dog suffered a fatal snake bite at Beus Pond Park.
DWR officials said there is the potential to run into a dangerous snake anywhere in Utah, no matter how unlikely it may seem, and that people should immediately call animal control or the DWR to remove the reptile.
The Johnsons are grateful their dog will live through the ordeal, and Eliza said the one thing that made a difference in saving Peanut Butter's life was acting fast and not hesitating to take her to the vet.
The family holds no animosity for the snakes.
"I realized it wasn't the snake's fault, it was more Peanut Butter's fault than anything," Eliza said. "I'm just happy I still have my puppy."