Steve Gustafson, a Florida grandfather, age 66, was trimming an oak tree while his West Highland Terrier Bounce was chasing butterflies. She apparently got close to the water’s edge when Gustafson heard a high-pitched yelp. He turned and saw his dog being dragged away by the shoulder into the water by a large alligator.
Gustafson saw he was about to lose his best friend, and took off running after them. “For whatever reason, I don’t know, I just yelled, ‘you’re not going to get her!’ and just leaped on the gator…just like you do some silly belly flop in a pool.”
Apparently, you can learn from TV…
Gustafson grabbed the alligator’s leg, and the reptile went to work trying to submerge them all in the 3-foot deep water. But Gustafson was able to get his feet underneath him, giving the gator a big shove back towards the shore. At that point, the predator let go of Bounce, and it whipped around and snapped at Gustafson, catching his hand with three of its sharp teeth. Before the gator could snap again, Gustafson grabbed the snout and pushed it to the bottom of the pond, wrestling it like some of the animal handlers seen on television. This gave Bounce a chance to weakly paddle toward land. Gustafson saw she was struggling to make it, so he let go of the gator, grabbed Bounce, and ran for shore.
Once they were safe, they were able to assess their wounds. Bounce’s rabies tag was bent from the gator’s jaws and had jagged tooth marks in her skin. Bounce and Gustafson received medical treatment for lacerations with a few stitches apiece.
Taxidermy to Preserve the True Tale
The gator was trapped and killed two days later by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer. It was 7 feet long and 130 pounds. The carcass is being preserved and will be displayed as the best prop ever to show and tell the grandkids about their crazy grandfather!
Supportive neighbors have since delivered Gustafson a superman cape and an alligator belt buckle.
Photo and video courtesy of Tom Benitez, Orlando Sentinel.