The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is warning parents and pet owners to be cautious around water after a woman's dog was killed by a 9-foot alligator in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. Deputies say the gator weighed between 350 and 400 pounds, which they say is big for Joe's Creek.
Deputies responded to a home on Criswell Avenue, near Saint Joes Creek, for a report of an alligator attack.
Colleen McDonald says her dog Rocky escaped after it dug through her backyard fence and then ran across the creek.
She followed him until she spotted the alligator's head coming out of the water.
She threw rocks at the gator hoping to distract it while she called for her dog to come back to her.
Rocky was on his way across the creek when she saw the gator head toward him and snatch him under the water.
Deputies were unable to rescue the dog and a trapper was called to remove the alligator from the creek. Trappers say they knew they had the right gator because the dog was still in its mouth when they pulled the alligator out.
"That was the worst thing in the world that you could ever go through," she said, "it’s like your child being taken and being killed and you know he’s not coming back."
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office posted a photo of the trapped gator on Facebook with a warning to the public.
A spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says a nuisance alligator becomes the property of the contracted trapper once it's caught.
In this case, as in most, the trapper can process the alligator for its hide and meat as the primary source of compensation for their services.
This isn't the first time an alligator from the creek has snatched and killed a family pet. In August of 2016 a one-year-old Jack Russell got loose from his collar to chase a rabbit and a gator came out of the water and grabbed the dog.