Carmen Iben, Global Animal

FLORIDA – A heartwarming story about a guardian saving his dog from a hungry, 7-foot, 130-pound alligator emerged over the weekend. Lake County resident Steve Gustafson—unable to imagine life without his best friend, Bounce—immediately threw himself into the lake where an alligator was dragging the young terrier far into the water. Gustafsons’ efforts were successful, as he and his dog came out virtually unharmed. The alligator, however, was put to death. 

Steve Gustafon and his dog walked away from the encounter unharmed, but the alligator was not so lucky. Photo Credit: Steve Gustafson / Fox News

Gustafson was reportedly not watching his dog when the incident occurred. He was tending to his yard when he heard a small yelp let out by the West Highland Terrier, and instantly jumped into action. Gustafson was fortunate enough to get away with just a small bite on his hand after he invaded the alligator’s territory.

“I looked up and the gator had her in his mouth and was taking her far out,” Gustafson told Fox News. “I knew if I needed to react, it had to be quick.”

Gustafson said, “(the alligator) came around and bit me… he didn’t hang on, he just snapped.” This was likely because the alligator felt threatened. 

While the story initially seems uplifting, the alligator eventually suffered an unjust death after simply acting in defense against an intimidating human. 

Patrick Delaney, an alligator biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told ABC News that attacks on dogs are “extremely uncommon but do occur.”

The Leesburg Police Department makes clear that, with “well over 1,000 lakes, it is not uncommon to encounter alligators.”

While residents in Lake County are well aware of this, Gustafson does not seem to consider the risks when letting his dog run free close to a pond. It should be the guardian’s responsibility to keep an eye on their domestic pets, and the Florida wildlife should not be punished in result of an attack that could be avoided with close watch. 

Perhaps Gustafson will consider fencing off a designated area where his dog can run free and coexist with the wildlife to prevent such incidents. For now, Gustafson plans to keep the alligator’s carcass on display in his home, reminding others of his utmost dedication to his dog Bounce.