Dog dies from snake bites in St. Augustine Beach

Residents push for changes after third dog dies in three months

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – St. Johns County residents are warning their neighbors about a big problem in their area.

People in St. Augustine Beach told News4Jax Tuesday night that snakes have become a huge problem in their area, and something needs to be done.

"There's not a day that I walk out of my house that I'm not looking for a snake," said concerned pet owner Meg O'Connell. "We have several empty lots in our neighborhood and there are known nests in them, so every time I walk my dog, I'm really in fear. Where am I stepping? Is my dog getting too close to a brushed area?"

From water moccasins to rattlesnakes, reptiles are biting more and more neighborhood pets in St. Augustine Beach and residents say something needs to be done. In the last three months, three dogs have died from multiple snake bites and pet owners are asking for the city to step in.


Penny Wagner lost her beloved yellow lab, Kingsley (pictured), more than a week ago to poisonous snake bites.

"We found him down the road and his leg was very, very swollen. And we rushed him to Dr. Strickland who is the neighborhood vet -- and he tried everything. He was heroic," said Wagner. "It was multiple snake bite wounds, and we can't save him."

Now Wagner's neighbors are trying to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to their pets.

"We put in an aluminum snake barrier that went down 18 inches to try to prevent them from coming in our yard, so we could protect our dog and protect ourselves," said O'Connell.

Neighbors claim a lack of lighting in their neighborhood is partly to blame for the snake problem.

"We also have a lot of children in this neighborhood," said O'Connell. "And the parents in the neighborhood -- the ones who live right next to this empty lot -- say if a ball rolls into that lot, they are not allowed to go and get it because they know there are snakes there."

Neighbors also blame sand dunes that are protected by the state.


"We've asked for years and years and years to have a raised boardwalk that would take us across that sand dune that would take us to the beach and it's been postponed and postponed and postponed," said Wagner. "And now it's postponed through sea turtle season."

Wagner and O'Connell have raised the issue with the City Council in St. Augustine Beach and said they are committed to finding a solution, in honor of Kingsley.

"If Kingsley's death means anything, it means we can make something better come about this," Wagner said.

News4Jax reached out to the St. Augustine Beach City Council on Tuesday night, and we were referred to the mayor, who did not respond to our inquiries.