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Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2012

Florida Man Wrestles an Alligator to Save His Dog’s Life

Photo by Tom Benitez via Orlando Sentinel
Photo by Tom Benitez via Orlando Sentinel

We all know that dogs are man’s best friend, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that the bond goes two ways.

Steve Gustafson, a 66-year-old grandfather from Florida, was trimming trees in his yard when he heard a familiar and frightening yelp. He looked up to see a 7-foot alligator trying to drag Bounce, Gustafson’s West Highland Terrier, into a nearby pond. “I just knew that my best friend was going to be dead,” he told the Orlando Sentinel during his story, speaking of his beloved pet. “And I took off.”

Yelling at the gator to let go of Bounce, Gustafson sprinted to the water’s edge and leapt onto the back of the reptile. “…Just like you do some silly belly flop in a pool,” he told the source. “The only difference was I landed on top of a gator.

“Gustafson wrestled the gator, pushing the reptile’s head to the bottom of the pond. The gator spun out of his grip, but Gustafson remained steady and balanced, pushing and pulling the predator toward shore and freeing the captive Bounce, who weighs a mere 13 pounds to the gator’s 130. Bounce scampered to safety and Gustafson managed to follow, but not before sustaining a vicious bite to his hand.

After a few stitches and medical and veterinary treatment, both Gustafson and Bounce walked away more-or-less okay and definitely alive. Doubtlessly, the 9-year-old Terrier is very happy with his pet parent and would love to offer him the equivalent of a tasty dog treat or chew toy. We sent the duo a package of Hartz pet supplies and got word from them last week that they are happily recovering.

The Orlando Sentinel also spoke with alligator biologist Patrick Delaney, who said that gators are still thriving and hungry as ever at this time of year, largely due to metabolism spikes caused by the temperatures. While Gustafson’s story is a heartwarming one, pursuing a pet into a dangerous situation like that can end far more tragically than what happened in Florida. When it comes to predators, prevention as pet safety is a more efficient method. Have cats stay indoors and keep dogs on tethers very close to the house, and only when you’re outside to watch them. Every part of the country has wild animals, from coyotes to foxes to alligators, any of which can prove to be potential dangers for even the bravest pets. Know the safety tips and be wary, especially in rural areas.

This content post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.