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PA Press: Victim to get goldfish

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Fri Aug 20 06:17:08 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  

PUBLIC OPINION (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania) 18 August 10 Snake bite victim says he'll get a goldfish next time (Jim Tuttle)
After he gets out of the hospital, Barry Painter Sr. does not plan to get another venomous pet snake like the one that bit him last week.
"I'll probably get a goldfish," Painter, 38, said Tuesday in a phone interview from his room at Community General Hospital in Harrisburg.
"The worse thing that can happen there is a goldfish tank could fall on me," he said.
Painter was flown to the hospital after his pet western Gaboon viper bit him twice on his left hand on the night of Aug. 11. In retrospect, he regrets keeping such a dangerous animal as a pet.
"It was a mistake, keeping a deadly snake like that. I had it for over four years. I got it when it was 8 inches long and it was almost 5 feet long when it bit me," he said.
A press release issued by Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg on Thursday said Painter was intoxicated and playing with the viper when he was bitten.
Painter contends that he was not intoxicated, and that he was attempting to remove the normally docile snake from its aquarium in order to change the bedding.
"I'm on state parole. I had no drugs or alcohol in my system. The only drugs I got in me now are the ones I got in me here (at the hospital)," he said.
Pennsylvania State Police spokesperson Trooper Tom Pinkerton said Tuesday that "information was provided to troopers at the scene that Mr. Painter may have been intoxicated."
He declined to discuss the nature of Painter's alleged intoxication. He said that in situations where a person is in need of medical treatment, it is "imperative" that responders know whether the person is intoxicated or if they have consumed drugs, including prescription medications.
Painter said he remembers being bitten and getting into his friend's car. He reportedly lost consciousness on the way to Chambersburg Hospital and woke up while police and ambulance crews were waiting for the helicopter to land.
He remembers parts of the flight to Harrisburg and arriving at the hospital.
"Everybody was so nice to me, they worked with me and stuff. I was in and out of it for the next eight to 10 hours. I was sick and vomiting, I had fevers and double vision. It was pretty bad," Painter said.
It took about four hours to get the right antivenin, which was flown to Harrisburg from the Philadelphia Zoo. Painter said he's had three rounds of antivenin and it appears he won't need any more.
Fearing that he would lose his hand, doctors performed emergency surgery to make a "tear drop" shaped incision and drain fluid from the badly damaged tissue, Watson said.
While it now appears that Painter will not lose his left hand, he is awaiting reconstructive surgery to repair the damage. He has been working with an occupational therapist twice a day to regain movement in the affected hand and arm.
There is no word yet on when Painter might be able to leave the hospital.
Since he was admitted, he has had plenty of people come to visit and wish him well. He thinks often about friends and family, and looks forward to his eventual release.
"I didn't realize how many friends I had until this happened. I can't wait to get out and thank them all," Painter said.
He said his girlfriend, Brittany Thomas, has been a big supporter throughout the ordeal.
"I couldn't ask for a better girlfriend than her," he said.
As Painter was being flown to the hospital, troopers responded to the Cumberland County home where the snake bit him. While searching for the animal, they allegedly found a bag of illegal drugs.
A police news release stated that the drugs were identified as Painter's. He says the drugs, psychedelic mushrooms, were not his.
"It wasn't my house. I have no idea where those drugs came from," he said.
Painter has not been charged in connection with the alleged drugs. Pinkerton said the investigation is ongoing, and police are still waiting on the laboratory's analysis of the substance in question.
"Once we get the results of the submitted evidence back, a determination will be made in consultation with the district attorney's office, whether or not to file charges," he said.
A professional tattoo artist for the past 23 years, Painter said he is right-handed.
"I'm just glad it wasn't my tattoo hand that got bit, or I'd pretty much be finished," he said.
The snake, which he was keeping at a friend's house, was Painter's only pet. He was once "a snake collector" with about 16 large snakes, including boa constrictors, pythons and a yellow anaconda.
Now a father of six, Painter said he gave away the large snake collection several years ago, when he started having children.
"They were big enough to eat my kids," he said.
Painter's mother, Jacqueline Watson, said a number of people have asked her in the last few days why her son had a venomous snake as a pet, anyway. While she is not an animal lover herself, she defends her son's exotic taste in animals.
"Why does anybody have a cat or a dog? Everybody's different. If everybody was the same, this would be a dull world," she said.
Snake bite victim says he'll get a goldfish next time


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