Walter Ertsinian was celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary on Tuesday when his family discovered an unwelcome visitor in their pool. And while Floridians are fairly used to the critter, the Ertsinians live in Hamilton, Canada – and many had never encountered a gator before in their lives.
Ertsinian’s daughters, 11 and 18, first saw the 2-year-old, 4.5-foot long gator and mistook it for a pool toy, according to the Toronto Sun. But then it moved, and they “freaked out.”
“They both looked at it and said, ‘maybe dad bought something for the pool like a vinyl blowup thing, or maybe dad bought some kind of weird statue as a joke and put it on the side and didn’t tell us,”’ Ertsinian told the Tornoto Sun. “And then they saw the head move and said, ‘No, it’s alive!”’
Ertsinian, who was getting ready for his anniversary dinner, ran outside and did the only thing he could think of – he called 911, according to CBC News. But when the operator asked if Ertsinian needed police, firefighters or an ambulance, he apologized and said he just needed someone who could come get an alligator.
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He was directed to call animal control and did that next. Matthew Huber, who has been an animal control officer for 12 years, said this was his first alligator.
“I know what their diet mainly consists of and I’d prefer not to be a part of that,” Huber told CBC News.
Huber caught the animal using a catch pole, and the alligator is now with an animal rescue organization that plans to send it to an unspecified alligator sanctuary in Florida, according to CBC News.
“It’s hissing a lot, eh?” Huber said as he wrangled the animal, according to a video on Hamilton Animal Services Facebook page. “Wow, it’s a little pissed off.”
Commenters on the Facebook video expressed concern.
“I’m never going swimming again,” one woman wrote.
“I thought the crackheads were dangerous,” a man wrote. “Now we have to be on the lookout for alligators?”
Animal services said the gator was most likely an escaped or released pet, but the owner won’t be getting it back. It is illegal to own gators under Hamilton bylaws.
The Ertsinian family went out to dinner as normal after the gator was taken, no harm done.
“The 25th anniversary and that time we had an alligator in the back yard?” Ertsinian told the Toronto Sun. “We’re going to remember that for sure.”
In June, another part of Canada showed its inexperience with tropical reptiles. Multiple residents of Surrey called officials to report a crocodile sighting in a marsh, but it was just a truck tire.