A 74-year-old Florida woman saved her dog’s life by fighting off an alligator that latched onto the golden retriever mix.
Suzan Marciano brought her dog Nalu to a lake at Burt Aaronson park near Boca Raton, Florida, on the evening of August 24. Marciano and Nalu were playing fetch in the shallow water when she noticed a dark shadow to the right of Nalu. She quickly realized that the shadow was a six-foot-long alligator.
“My heart dropped,” Marciano recalled in an interview with the Palm Beach Post. The alligator then seized the golden retriever mix and punctured the animal’s stomach and thigh. “I wasn’t thinking,” she explained. “I did the only thing I could do. I came down on the alligator with all my weight.”
Her quick thinking freed Nalu from the alligator’s jaws but the predator latched onto Marciano’s hand. “As I’m pulling away, he grabbed my hand, the alligator grabbed my hand, I just kept pulling and he let go,” Marciano explained as reported by WPLG Local 10.
“Providence must have been with me,” she told the Palm Beach Post. “It was all one big blur. I was in such shock. I didn’t feel any pain.” Marciano recounted that she was crying and bleeding from her palm as she fled the scene of the attack and headed toward her car in the parking lot.
A friend convinced her to seek medical attention at the hospital for her injury and she required five stitches to mend her hand. Marciano then took Nalu to an emergency veterinarian hospital where the dog underwent a two-hour surgery in which its wounds were drained and stitched.
“I had this feeling that she was going to survive,” Marciano told the Post. “If she survived that, she can survive the surgery.” In the time following the attack, Nalu was quiet and more subdued. The pair would go for short walks around the neighborhood, but Nalu would stop often to take a break, the Post reported.
“If I hadn’t done what I did, I would have lost her and that would have been even more horrific for me,” she explained according to WPLG Local 10.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officer and a park ranger investigated the lake after the attack but found no sign of the alligator per the Palm Beach Post.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, “Florida has averaged 7 unprovoked bites per year that are serious enough to require professional medical treatment. The frequency of these serious bites is variable but there has not been a significant trend in the past 10 years.”