Escaped albino cobra recaptured in Los Angeles suburb

Reuters

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Animal control officers on Thursday recaptured an albino cobra that mysteriously got loose in a Los Angeles suburb, leaving residents jumpy after the venomous reptile attacked a dog earlier this week, authorities said.

Officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control confirmed that the snake, an all-white specimen of a species called a monocled cobra, had been caught alive, but they were unable to immediately provide more details.

A brief statement posted online by the police department in Thousand Oaks, the community north of Los Angeles where the dog was attacked on Monday, said the snake was found near where it had last been seen just after its canine confrontation.

The dog was treated at a veterinarian hospital for what was originally reported to be a snake bite to its neck, and it has since recovered. Betsey Webster, a spokeswoman for the animal control agency, said on Thursday that the dog's injury turned out to be "not consistent with a bite."

"There were no puncture marks," she said. "It appeared to be an abrasion, and no signs of venom entering the animal."

She said investigators were "actively following some leads" to determine who might have owned the cobra, which is native to parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia but illegal to possess in California without a special permit.

The dog's owner took photographs of the snake and alerted authorities.

Although residents of the Southern California community have experience with rattlesnakes, the presence of a white-colored cobra several feet long in their midst had left some people on edge.

"People are a little more freaked out because obviously cobras don't live in this area, but it's just as dangerous as any of the rattlesnakes that we have living in this area," animal control officer Alfred Aguirre said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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