An unidentified homeowner had a terrifying experience in his backyard when a large alligator charged and grabbed his dog in its jaws this week. The incident happened in Deltona, Florida, which is just north of Orlando, according to Fox35 Orlando TV.
The homeowner let his dog, Winston, outside, then noticed the chocolate Lab sniffing something. The dog’s behavior was unusual enough that the man went outside to investigate. When he rounded his home’s corner, came face-to-face with an aggressive gator that looked to be nearly 8 feet long.
The startled gator lunged at the dog, chomping down on the side of its head. The homeowner leaped into action, and shot the alligator four times in its head, killing the scaly predator while it was still latched onto his dog. News reports did not indicate what type of firearm the homeowner used, or if he was carrying when he encountered the gator.
“I don’t even think there was a thought,” the homeowner told Fox35. “I think it was – my heart just dropped, and I was like, ‘Okay, I have to go do something.’ So, I mean, you just spring into action and do what you have to do to save your dog. Twenty seconds later, probably would’ve had a dead dog.”
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The Lab has a small ear wound from the gator attack but is otherwise unharmed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was notified and dispatched an officer to the scene.
“The game warden said that most likely because it’s leading up to the alligator breeding season, a lot of the alligators are going to be out, and they’re going to be looking for potential mates,” the homeowner told Fox35. “They’re going to be a little more aggressive, so if you live anywhere near water, just make sure that you’re checking your yard, because something like this can happen in a split second.”
The game warden told the man that a damaged area in his backyard fence likely allowed the gator access to the yard. FWC officers took possession of the dead gator and, after reviewing the incident, determined the man will not be charged for killing the gator.
Alligators can be removed from private property by licensed gator trappers, and there is a state hunting season for gators running from August to November. They are otherwise protected by law, except in incidents of self-defense.
Dogs, Gators, and Florida Residents
Late last month, an elderly Florida woman was walking her dog when she was attacked and killed by an alligator. And in Daytona Beach last week, only 30 miles northeast of Deltona, Scott Hollingsworth was attacked and bitten on the leg by an alligator as he opened the front door of his home. At first, he thought it was a dog.
According to a Daytona Beach Police report, “The resident opened the front door after hearing a noise. The alligator lunged and he was bitten in the upper thigh. The resident sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported by medical personnel.”
“I really didn’t get a good look at it,” Hollingsworth told Orlando’s WESH-TV. “When I saw what it was, I stepped back in the house and closed the door. Looked down and I had a large gash in the side of my leg.
An FWC trapper captured the 9-foot gator, which was subsequently euthanized—standard procedure following a gator attack. Hollingsworth required surgery on his leg as a result of the gator bite.
“Fortunately, there’s no damage to my knee, which I was concerned about,” Hollingsworth said. “Everything’s going well.”