TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida man playing with his dog at a north Florida park was horrified when a large alligator attacked his pet, dragged it into the water and ate it earlier this month, wildlife officials said.
Joshua Wells, 44, said he was playing a game of fetch with his unleashed dog, Toby, a 40-pound black Labrador retriever mix, near water at the J.R. Alford Greenway Trail in Tallahassee during a lunch break on June 6, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
The dog was in the water, “standing up to his elbows,” when the 9-foot, 2-inch alligator pounced, according to an incident report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“Boom, the water just sort of exploded,” Wells, an engineer, told the Democrat. “He never barked. He never saw it.”
Wells said he got Toby during the COVID-19 pandemic as a gift for his 3 1/2-year-old son, the newspaper.
Wells said the alligator grabbed the dog by his head.
“It took him down like it was nothing,” Wells told the Democrat.
Wells tried to grab the alligator by its legs but backed off when he saw how large it was, according to the newspaper.
“He said he quickly realized that was not a good idea and let the alligator go,” the FWC incident report stated.
FWC Officer Benjamin Johnson, who reported the incident, stayed for two hours to look for the alligator, Wells told the Democrat.
In the incident report, Johnson found a 6-foot, 6-inch alligator, along with the reptile that attacked Wells’ dog. The dog’s body was floating below the surface of the water, The Associated Press reported.
Both were removed from the waterway by a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program trapper. The larger alligator that ate Toby was euthanized, Wells told the Democrat.
The area of the attack is a popular area, particularly among children. The FWC warns that alligators can be present in any body of water in Florida.
“There’s cul-de-sacs, you’re not expecting a gator to come out and eat your dog,” Wells told the newspaper.
Johnson returned Toby’s remains to Wells, who buried it.
“No one wants to go by gator, you know?” Wells told the Democrat.
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