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74-year-old Palm Beach County woman fends off alligator to save dog

Pet owner jumps into water, slams hands down on hungry gator
Suzan Marciano with dog
Nalu, dog attacked by alligator west of Boca Raton
Nalu, dog attacked by alligator in west Boca Raton on Aug. 24, 2021
Nalu, dog attacked by alligator west of Boca Raton
Posted at 2:59 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 17:43:34-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A 74-year-old Palm Beach County woman was injured while fighting off an alligator that attacked her dog last month.

The incident occurred on Aug. 24 at the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park located west of Boca Raton.

Suzan Marciano said she has been visiting the park for the last eight years.

During an evening last month, Marciano said she was walking her two dogs near a lake in the southeast area of the park.

Suzan Marciano with her dog Nalu after they were attacked by an alligator
Suzan Marciano with her dog Nalu after they were attacked by an alligator at the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park west of Boca Raton on Aug. 24, 2021.

One of her dogs, 11-year-old Nalu, was in the water a few feet when she saw a dark shadow approach her pet.

"For eight years, I have been letting her cool off in there," Marciano said.

That dark shadow turned out to be an alligator, which jumped out of the water and attacked her dog.

Marciano said she instinctively jumped into the water to rescue Nalu, slamming her hands down on the hungry gator.

"I didn't even think. I stepped into the water and came down on the alligator with both hands," Marciano said.

She said during the struggle her hand was bitten, but she was able to get both of them away from the hungry gator and back onshore.

Suzan Marciano, hand wound from attack by alligator in west Boca Raton
Suzan Marciano needed stitches to her hand after she was attacked by an alligator while saving her dog on Aug. 24, 2021, in west Boca Raton.

"(Nalu) was already half underwater when I landed on the alligator," Marciano said.

She said she saw people leaving the park the evening of the incident who told her they would contact officials.

That night Marciano had stitches put in her hand, and Nalu had emergency surgery to drain and treat the bite marks.

Marciano said she's grateful she was able to save her dog, crediting adrenaline and being healthy.

Nalu, dog attacked by alligator west of Boca Raton
Nalu was attacked by an alligator at the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park west of Boca Raton on Aug. 24, 2021.

"I go to the gym twice a week, and I am so happy I do because I am pretty strong," Marciano said.

She has been spreading the word about what happened, reminding everyone of the threat of alligators.

Since the attack, Nalu has been healing and staying clear of water for a while.

"She is spending the rest of her life with me, never going into a lake again," Marciano said.

A report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they arrived at the park and canvassed the area but could not determine the location of the attack and didn't observe any alligators in the lake.