Florida

A gator grabbed his dog. This time, Florida man was bolder than Florida critter

Living with alligators

Alligators are important to Florida’s ecosystem and are found throughout the state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wants you to know that by following a few simple rules, we can co-exist with these amazing reptiles.
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Alligators are important to Florida’s ecosystem and are found throughout the state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wants you to know that by following a few simple rules, we can co-exist with these amazing reptiles.

Living in Florida, we’ve all come to accept that we have to share our space with critters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission even has a tips page on how to deal called Living With Alligators and Crocodiles — emphasis on the “living with” part.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t bemused by our encounters with the reptiles.

Sometimes we’re even touched — or startled — by the heroic lengths one will go to to save an unwary pet from the jaws of these beasts.

Gator grabs dog, man grabs gator

On Thursday, a Sarasota County man jumped into a canal behind his house in Nokomis to rescue his chocolate lab after a gator got hold of the dog. Florida Fish and Wildlife officials told WWSB ABC7.

Soon as the unidentified man hit the water he “pried open the gator’s jaws” to rescue his beloved pet from the critter, said to be between six- to eight-feet long.

Lt. Rob Gerkin with the FWC told WWSB the homeowner and the dog both had minor injuries. “Both will be fine,” he said on a broadcast. “There’s a happy ending to this one. They don’t always happen that way.”

Gerkin told the station contracted trappers would be sent out to capture the gator after other neighbors also reported seeing the alligator near homes.

Florida gator encounters

This Sarasota community isn’t unique in this respect.

Sometimes, the gators simply cross our roads to get to the other side — which usually has a body of water because that’s what they like and that’s what your home and roads are surrounded by — water.

That was the case Friday when Parkland resident Ray Walker posted a video to his Twitter page of a gator, and a flock of impatient vultures, crossing the street with a big kill, of something, in its snout.

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Gators don’t respect the law — the law that says you don’t attack a police dog. But that happened in Palmetto in 2018. A retired police dog was bitten by an alligator in the pond behind the homeowner’s residence in Manatee County.

That dog, like the one Thursday in Sarasota County, was lucky. He cavorted in the yard alongside his owner who told his story.

Chris Leister, 50, speaks about his dog, Arek, being attacked by an alligator.

Other times, the gators wind up in the family pool.

This happened in February when a Boca Raton family woke up to find an eight-foot-long alligator in their pool. Homeowner Matt Fino had let his dog into the backyard when he was startled to find the gator in his pool, WSVN reported.

The Boca Raton Police Department and officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission helped remove the visitor.

A Boca Raton, Florida, family woke up on Monday, February 5, to find an unwanted swimmer in their backyard pool – an eight-foot-long alligator. Homeowner Matt Fino had let his dog into the backyard when he was startled to find the gator swimming in his pool, according to WSVN. Not believing what he was seeing, Fino woke his wife to take a look. The Boca Raton Police Department and officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were called to safely remove the alligator.

Gators like to sun themselves on Florida beaches, too, because even they get the messages the state’s convention and visitors’ bureaus put out: we have good beaches.

A charter boat captain saw one on the Gulf of Mexico off Big Hickory Preserve near Bonita Springs in June 2018.

But we’ve had gators off a South Pointe jetty on South Beach. And at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, just a-resting on the beach.

Wasting away again in Margaritaville

And then there was that six-foot crocodile that took a dip in the ocean and then sunned itself on a beach in Hollywood — right near Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville hotel in November 2017.

Maybe it’s time for the Florida troubadour to update his 1979 “Fins” song with a change in creature.

A charter boat captain posted a video showing an alligator swimming off a beach on Big Hickory Island, near Bonita Springs in Lee County. It later took a walk on the beach.

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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