DELTONA, Fla. - We expect to see alligators in lakes around Florida, but what about in your backyard?
A Deltona homeowner who asked not to be identified had to think fast when a gator started attacking his chocolate lab. The homeowner says he let his dog, Winston outside. He noticed the pup sniffing around, so he came out to see what Winston was interested in.
When he rounded the corner, he says he spotted an alligator at the same time that the gator spotted his dog. This was a seven-foot-eight behemoth. Both man and beast lunged forward at the same time.
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The gator got Winston, chomping down on the side of his head, and the homeowner shot the gator four times in the skull while it still had Winston between its teeth.
"I don’t even think there was a thought," the homeowner told FOX 35. "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."
Winston is doing okay. He has a minor puncture wound on his ear.
An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came out to help get rid of the gator.
"The game warden said that most likely because it’s breeding season – 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 relayed. "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 homeowner says he isn’t necessarily nervous going outside now, but does feel a bit on edge.
"And more aware of the surroundings and double-checking every time before I let the dog out by himself," he added.
The homeowner says the game warden he spoke with believes the gator got in through a damaged portion of his fence. The normal fence is six feet high, but there’s a portion of it that was destroyed in the hurricanes, and now is blocked off by a temporary four-foot barrier.
One of the pegs to that barrier was damaged, leading the game warden and homeowner to figure that’s probably where the gator climbed into the backyard.