Video: Terrier vs. alligator, terrier wins

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/5/2010 4:41:58 PM ET 2010-11-05T20:41:58

Lizabeth the terrier experienced the canine terror of being dragged underwater in an alligator's jaws — and lived to bark the tale.

The gator wasn't so fortunate.

Tom Martino said he and his Jack Russell terrier were taking their afternoon walk along the Hillsborough River in Tampa on Thursday when he heard splashing — the alligator had snatched the 15-pound dog off riverside rocks and pulled her into the water.

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Martino, who has a concealed weapons permit, pulled out his handgun and started shooting at the water around the alligator to frighten it into releasing the dog, he told WFLA-TV.

The 6-foot-4 alligator eventually let her go. Using a rod, Martino was able to rescue his dog, he told WFLA. He then performed CPR on her.

"She coughed up a bunch of water," said Martino, who had never performed CPR on a dog. "I was scared. That's my little baby."

Nine-year-old Lizabeth, who is named after Fred Sanford's deceased wife from the 1970s sitcom "Sanford and Son," is in critical but stable condition and is being cared for at Florida Veterinary Specialists in Tampa.

Veterinarian Miryam Reems told WFLA that the dog suffered bites and lung injuries from being underwater. Before the alligator attack, Lizabeth was being treated for a suppressed immune system. Reems told WFLA the CPR saved Lizabeth's life.

At about 7 p.m. Thursday, a trapper contracted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission used a treble hook and fish line to capture the alligator, WFLA reported.

Martino took photos of the capture as neighbors watched and news crews filmed the action. The alligator was taped, roped and placed in the back of the trapper's pickup truck.

The animal was declared a nuisance and was to be euthanized, WFLA reported.

"I'm glad he's gone and nobody else got hurt," Martino said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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