Steve Gustafson, 66, says he had no choice but to act when he saw an alligator grab his 13 pound Highland Terrier pooch from the backyard of his Villages, Orlando, Florida home. He says he just had to save her.
Gustafson, a retired corporate lawyer and grandfather, witnessed his dog get nabbed at the shoreline of a small pond behind his house while he was doing some yard work. He says he heard a bloodcurdling yelp and saw a gator swim off with his dog and best friend, Bounce, and that’s when he reacted spontaneously and went after the gator in order to save his dog.
Gustafson says he did a belly flop into the water and started tackling the gator. Gustafson explained to the Orlando Sentinel that he grabbed the gator’s leg and when the gator spun around, he pushed the 130 pound beast into the shore. At that time, Bounce was able to break free and paddle back to shore.
The incident left Gustafson with brusies. Bounce had water in her lungs, a bent rabies tag from the gator’s teeth and a gash. Both owner and dog had to get a few stitches, but Gustafson thinks that’s a small price to pay to save Bounce.
He told the Orlando Sentinel:
“When people ask [about] my reaction — I didn’t have a choice. If I hesitated I would have lost my best friend.”
Wildlife officials say this is not something they would recommend, to take on a gator to save a pet, but Gustafson says wouldn’t have it any other way. He says the gator has since been caught and euthanized. He plans on having the reptile “stuffed” and keeping it for a survival memento.