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Can't shoot a gator - how far would you go to protect your pet?

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 19:00:28-04

On Sunday, the dog of Lisa Bass in Royal Palm Beach was attacked by an 8-foot alligator. The dog was pulled under water for 30 seconds but survived. 


Bass called SNAP with the Florida Fish and Wildlife right after the attack. 


Licensed alligator trappers were sent out and what they told her surprised her.


“They said they’re only allowed to go off of our property to capture a gator if a human was attacked,” Bass said. “But if it’s an animal they can only get that animal on our property.”


Alligators are protected under Florida law and FWC is taking those rules seriously. 


“You do need a permit in order to take alligators,” Tyson Matthews with FWC said. 


That means you’re not allowed to shoot and kill alligators unless you’re defending yourself. But when an alligator attacks a pet, you’re not allowed to shoot. 


“Law enforcement would look at that at a case by case basis,” Matthews said.


Wildlife expert David Hitzing told me there is a reason FWC makes that distinction. 


“The state doesn’t want people to go out there and handle the situation on their own,” Hitzing said. “The state wants to send an agent out.”


The alligator that attacked Bass’ dog was never captured. 


“Now we have this gator that’s out and about and it’s shown that it’s aggressive,” Bass said. 


Bass said her children are no longer allowed to play by the water. 


Hitzing said alligators are opportunistic eaters and they normally eat smaller things like birds. 

“It was probably a blind grab,” Hitzing said.