A 15-foot-long pet snake was shot in the head by police officers after it wrapped itself around its owner’s neck and wouldn’t let go.
Upper Macungie Township police said that the snake was in the process of strangling its owner, 28-year-old Elliot Senseman, at his home in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania, when they responded on July 20 to a 9-1-1 call from a distressed relative, who reported that Senseman was in cardiac arrest.
“I’ve been doing this job for 19 years and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” Lieutenant Peter Nickischer said.
Nickischer credited his officers with their quick response. “It was a very dire situation. I have to give credit to the officers. There was no hesitation and they reacted and did what they needed to do,” he said.
When two officers arrived at the home, they found Senseman in cardiac arrest while the large reptile was coiled around his neck. He was unresponsive on the floor at the time.
Officers said the head of the snake was far enough away from Senseman to give them a clear shot at the animal without risk of shooting its owner.
After shooting the snake in the head once, the animal slithered away.
Officers then dragged the Senseman to safety and paramedics moved in to provide treatment. He was then rushed to the hospital, where he died days later from anoxic brain injury due to asphyxiation by constriction, according to the coroner’s office.
The snake later died from the gunshot wound.
Nickischer wasn’t sure what type of snake it was or why it began to attack its owner, but said that they had to act fast because the owner was in cardiac arrest, which is a life-threatening emergency.
“It wasn’t like the officers had the opportunity to stop and ask questions,” he said. “The call came in as a cardiac arrest, so they had to move. There really wasn’t any time to find out the circumstances. Those are [answers] we still don’t know.”
Officers found several other snake enclosures inside the home.
“I can’t praise their actions enough,” Nickischer continued. “Nineteen years as a cop, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like this with a snake.”
Animal welfare organizations are working to move the other snakes to a safe location.