A Florida man wrestled an alligator to save his 8-month-old dog while they were out for a walk on Tuesday.
Mike McCoy was walking Jake, his chocolate lab, around a pond when the dog wandered a few feet away to a bush. Suddenly, an alligator emerged from the water and attacked the dog in a matter of seconds. McCoy recalled the he barely saw the gator spring out of the pond, but heard Jake crying out as the gator pulled him back into the water, he said in a phone interview with NBC News.
"He was in a death roll with that thing," McCoy said.
With his dog helplessly in the water and under attack from the alligator, Mike said he jumped into the pond immediately to fight off the predator and save his dog.
He said he recalled some tips he previously read on alligators and tried to put that knowledge to use. McCoy said he thumbed the alligator in the eye and tried to pick it up out of the water so it could not go anywhere until the dog was freed from its jaw, but as McCoy tried to fight the gator, he too was bit on both of his hands.
"Had I not remembered what I read about the alligators, I wouldn't have been able to respond as quickly to help Jake," McCoy said. "It was only because I knew what I did that I felt confident to fight the gator off."
Fortunately, a teacher at a school overlooking the pond was watching the incident from a window and was able to alert the school nurse, who helped bandage McCoy's injuries after the incident. The school resource officer who was on duty at the time of the attack called local police to report the incident, but police said McCoy was well enough to drive himself and the dog to receive further medical care.
McCoy's gator knowledge served him well, as his rescue effort was successful and he and the dog were able to escape the pond and the alligator relatively unscathed. McCoy received stitches in his left hand, and Jake the dog suffered several bites, but the two had no other serious injuries.
Florida wildlife officials are working to remove the alligator from the pond. They estimate that the gator is between seven and nine feet long, reported local news station WFTS.
There have been other incidents of owners jumping in to rescue their dogs from an alligator attack. In November 2020, Richard Wilbanks, 74, had to jump into the pond behind his Florida home to fight off an alligator who attacked his puppy Gunner.
Similarly to McCoy, Wilbanks and Gunner escaped the attack with minor injuries.