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Suzan Marciano, a resident from Boca Raton, Florida was walking her dog around her neighborhood when it was snatched up and almost killed by a 6-foot alligator.
The 74-year-old woman said she was walking in Burt Aaronson Park when it happened. She had just taken her golden retriever mix, Nalu, off the leash so she could play fetch with her.
Suzan remembers throwing the ball in the water like she normally does for Nalu to go fetch. She said Nalu was wading in the water by the shoreline when she first spotted the gator’s head pop up.
A dark figure just popped up beside Nalu and she said “my heart dropped.” Within seconds of noticing it, the gator lunged from its spot and grabbed her golden retriever in its mouth.
Suzan said at this point, she didn’t think, she just jumped into the water with her dog and started fighting the alligator to make it let go.
“I wasn’t thinking,” she said, The Palm Beach Post reported, “I did the only thing I could do. I came down on the alligator with all my weight.”
She was eventually able to get the gator to let go of her pet but was bitten on the hand during the process, causing a large puncture in her palm. She said she was “in such shock” that she “didn’t feel any pain.”
After getting herself and her dog out of the lake, she immediately went to the hospital because a friend urged her to go get her injury checked out.
Her friend told her, “You have to do something. You need a tetanus shot and you need the injury looked at.”
“All I could think was, ‘I want to get home.’ I was in such a terrible state that I wasn’t thinking straight,” Suzan recalled.
At the hospital, she received five stitches in her hand. Nalu was taken to an animal emergency clinic with bite wounds on her stomach and thigh and it took two hours of surgery to mend it in a way where she could properly heal. They both are expected to make a full recovery.
Wildlife officials said they went to the park to inspect the lake but no gator was to be found there. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will keep a close eye on the lake in case the gator returns and they can trap it.