Florida Woman, 74, Fights Off Alligator to Save Pet Dog From Attack

A Florida woman says she managed to save her dog from an alligator after it was attacked while wading through water.

Suzan Marciano, 74, told Florida news outlet The Palm Beach Post that the incident took place as she was walking her dog Nalu near a lake at Burt Aaronson Park, close to the city of Boca Raton, on the evening of August 24.

She said the dog had run into the water after being let off its leash. She soon noticed a dark shadow in the water, describing it as 6 feet or more in length.

The shadow turned out to be an alligator, according to Marciano, who said the predator gripped Nalu in its mouth.

"I wasn't thinking," she told The Palm Beach Post on September 21. "I did the only thing I could do. I came down on the alligator with all my weight."

The alligator then released her dog before turning and biting Marciano on the hand as well.

The 74-year-old said she didn't feel any pain at the time and both she and Nalu managed to get out of the water and headed back to the car.

After being convinced by a friend to go to a hospital, Marciano's hand was soaked in iodine and she received five stitches. Nalu had to have a two-hour surgery to treat puncture wounds to the stomach and thigh.

Both have since recovered from the attack. According to Marciano, Nalu seemed more tired than usual and it took a few weeks for them to return to the park.

Alligator Could Not Be Found

According to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) incident report seen by The Palm Beach Post, an officer and park ranger couldn't locate the animal following the reported attack.

A spokesman told the outlet that the agency had contacted Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department to inform them of the reported bite.

A Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson told Newsweek on September 24 there were "no additional developments to report."

It added: "Unfortunately, an alligator can mistake a dog for its natural prey when it enters their ecosystem. Dog owners should avoid walking their dogs near vegetated shorelines of freshwater lakes, particularly at dawn and dusk, and abide by park ordinances, which require pets to remain on a leash no greater than 6 feet."

Florida is known to be home to alligators and the animals have inhabited the state's waters for many centuries, according to the FWC. Sometimes they do come into contact with humans, occasionally with serious consequences.

In July a Florida hunter told Newsweek how an alligator leapt out of the water into his boat and almost claimed his arm, in what he described as an act of defense.

Earlier this month, multiple videos documented an alligator coming dangerously close to a woman who was paddleboarding in Marion County, Florida. The woman had to push the reptile with her paddle after it got too close.

The FWC advises that people should never feed alligators and should keep their distance if they see one and swim only in designated areas during daylight hours.

Update 9/24/21, 12:50 p.m. ET: This article was updated to add a statement from Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.

Alligator in water
A file photo of an alligator in some water along the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park in Florida. The animals inhabit the state and can be dangerous. BlueBarronPhoto/Getty