Australian woman pulled a coiled snake off her terrier’s chest

By Helin Jung
Updated May 27, 2010 10:00 PM

Brenda van Bovene’s Monday was punctuated by screams. First, the screams of her 11-year-old Australian silky terrier Tammy, then by her own shrill cries – so loud that a neighbor across the street heard them through his ear buds as he listened to his iPod.

Van Bovene heard Tammy crying in a terrible, distressed way from the backyard that afternoon, which prompted the 56-year-old woman to rush outside to see what was wrong. She was shocked to find her 15-lb. dog caught in the stranglehold of an 8-ft. python, which was slowly coiling itself around Tammy in a bid to kill her.

And that’s when van Bovene started yelling for help.

“Nobody was responding to my screaming, and in a split second, I just knew I had to get the snake off my dog,” van Bovene, of Bushland Beach, Australia, tells “I literally pulled and pulled and pulled on the snake’s tail. I didn’t stop to think of my own safety, I just knew there was no way in hell was I letting this python eat my dog!’”

Somehow, without any tools or aid, just her own adrenaline-fueled strength, van Bovene wrested the cold snake off of her yelping dog. She can’t say how long it took because the experience seemed to happen in a blur.

“When I pulled that final pull, it sounded like fabric ripping,” van Bovene says. “When I went to the vet, the snake’s tooth was lodged in Tammy’s chest. I ripped the snake’s tooth out! After I did it, my whole body just shook.”

The stunned reptile initially flung backward behind van Bovene, then slithered quickly under a grill she had on the patio. Her other dog, a Bichon Frise, became curious about what was happening in the backyard. Immediately, van Bovene took both dogs into the house and ran around locking all the doors to ensure their safety.

Now what to do about the snake? Van Bovene began calling everyone she knew for help, but no one was answering her calls (“Isn’t it annoying when all you get are people’s mobile messages?”). Then, two neighbors from across the street, after hearing the commotion, came to check on her. The men caught the snake, put it in a pillowcase, and drove it to the bush, far away from any residential areas.

Snakes have been showing up more frequently on residential properties in Australia recently, in what might be comparable to the growing number of coyote sightings and attacks in the U.S. Van Bovene has seen 13 snakes on her property in the past six weeks, though only one of them as large as the one that tried to take Tammy. She plans to be more vigilant about addressing the issue with her local council.

Meanwhile, Tammy, who is bruised, is feeling better and recuperating with antibiotics.

“She’s a lady of leisure,” van Bovene says. “We don’t own the house, the dogs do. She’s my best friend and I didn’t want to lose her in that way –I wasn’t going to let no python get my dog!”