Texas Dog Fights 25-Pound Lizard in Backyard Battle

It's not everyday a pet dog encounters a lizard of similar size to themselves in their own backyard.

On Sunday evening, a pitbull/boxer cross in Willis, Texas experienced just that when she was let outside for a bathroom break. Her owner, Molly Doughtery is "grateful that her dog is alive" after the ordeal.

Doughtery left her beloved dog Nola with her parents for the weekend while she attended her birthday celebration in New Orleans. She received a call from her mother on Sunday evening as she was boarding her flight to return home, "screaming that Nola has been attacked by a very large lizard," Doughtery told Fox26 in a video interview.

"I was hysterical. I was like what's happening to my dog?" Dougherty told Fox26.

Dougherty added that the incident occurred while her dog, Nola, was taking a bathroom break outside, spotted the large lizard in the family's backyard and began to chase it.

"Nola just took off after it because she knew it wasn't supposed to be there. She immediately just started going after it and obviously, it's going to fight back," Dougherty told Fox26. "It was terrified, I'm sure. They have teeth just like a large dog would. It's essentially like a big, large dog fight."

The two apparently engaged in combat at some point, as the family found bloodstains on their backyard fence and Nola was left with wounds to "her face, head, and chest, and limping in her hind leg" because of the attack.

Dougherty told Fox26 the veterinary treatment added up to $3,000.

"The worst part about this situation is she now has a torn ACL which is a pretty big surgery and recovery so it's a 6-week recovery process," Dougherty added.

Since the attack, she has filed a report with Panorama Village Police, who has reached out to All Thing Wild, a state-lisenced wildlife rehabber.

The exotic lizard was identified as an Argentine black and white tegu, which is a large, exotic species of lizard that is often kept as a pet.

The one that attacked Nola weighed 25-pounds and according to wildlife experts, "belongs to someone and may have been let loose because it had an infection and appeared critically injured."

The Argentine black-and-white tegu, a large lizard that can grow up to four feet in length, has already proliferated widely throughout South Florida. But it’s not stopping there. https://t.co/ueP7Ogt7az

— National Geographic Magazine (@NatGeoMag) November 19, 2020

Just last year, Georgia wildlife authorities warned locals about the spread of the invasive species, an issue that National Geographic reported is spreading across the Southereastern U.S. as captive tegus are released or escape into the wild and left to breed or distrub existing ecosystems.

Dougherty said this wasn't even the first incident of a tegu roaming her local area she's heard of.

"Someone else posted on our Panorama page that she had seen one in her yard on the same street last year," Dougherty told Fox26. "And I'm like ok now we don't have to worry about snakes, possums, and raccoons, now we have to worry about lizards because a pandemic was not enough."

Authorities have warned locals to call them if they spot a similar reptile and advised citizens not to approach them.

"I would just say to go out and check your yard before you let your dogs out because my parents have a small wiener dog and if Toby would've come out, it would've killed him instantly, 100 percent, or a child," Dougherty said.

Dog fights Argentine black and white tegu
Reptile Rescue Coordinator Tom Bunsell handles an Argentine black and white tegu at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) reptile rescue center in Brighton, England. Carl Court/GETTY