A service dog gave her life for her owner in a heartbreaking episode on a dimly lit Florida dock.
The dog, named Precious, was specially trained to detect epileptic seizures in her owner. The 6-year-old pit bull lived on a boat with her owner, Robert Lineburger, at the Port LaBelle Marina.
Lineburger, a veteran, was taking an evening walk with Precious along the pier when the alligator came after him, according to New York Daily News.
“She jumped in front of me. She was roughly 2 to 3 feet away from me when the gator attacked.”
The 13-foot gator grabbed the dog by her front legs and dragged her away, Lineburger said.
Now, Lineburger is asking for a code inspection in the marina, as the lighting is not sufficient to see the reptiles.
“We have no lighting, which is mandatory code enforcement. Fire extinguishers are mandated the fire marshal, we have cluttered docks and at night with no light, you can’t see the clutter.”
“You trip over them, and now you put the alligator problem on top of it, it’s a place for a disaster to happen.”
A Florida man is asking city officials to conduct an inspection after his service dog was killed by an alligator: https://t.co/jnzANW9x13
— NBC 6 South Florida (@nbc6) June 24, 2016
Code compliance for Glades County said they have not confirmed any code violations, but would be looking into the problem. Lineburger was able to recover his dog’s body and bury her in his front yard.
“Nothing they will do will bring her back, but I do not want her death to be in vain. At least let it accomplish something and get some of these violations taken care of.”
Dock master Peter Sullivan had given permission to have the “nuisance gator” removed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but then changed his mind and said he believed the alligator should remain in its natural habitat and would not give permission to remove it, according to DailyMail.
‘This all could have been avoided,” Lineberger said.
Neighbors confirmed that gators in the marina are a common sight, according to another dog-owning resident, Denise McPherson.
“It’s just an every day ordeal.”
“We don’t let (our dog) run around by himself.”
Another marina resident, Frank, confirmed that alligators are regular, if unwanted, guests at the facility.
“I’ve seen them on land, I’ve seen them right here. I have no doubt they’ve been on the dock.”
Alligator attacks on humans are rare, said an article in Washington Post. From 1948 through 2015, there have been 383 attacks in Florida, 23 of them fatal, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The alligator was brought back from the brink of extinction, where it was teetering due to the demand for its hide. The animal has been recovering in numbers in over just two decades thanks to human effort.
But it has increased the number of alligator-human encounters, “an inevitable consequence of a successful conservation story of a large predator,” said Frank Mazzotti, a professor at University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, also known as UF-IFAS.
“…anywhere there has been a successful recovery program. Because during the same time, the human population has also increased and is now living more frequently where that large predator was living.”
With the burgeoning population of humans in Florida, encroachment of alligator habitat has been inevitable. Swamps that were once gator havens have been transformed into housing developments, golf courses, and resorts. But the former gator homes can still offer the reptiles a drainage system, Mazzotti said.
“That’s what creates the interface between humans and alligators, the storm water ponds.”
Florida had 13,599 nuisance alligator complaints in 2014, and 6,706 of those alligators were “harvested” — caught and killed by trappers.
On June 14, 2-year-old Lane Graves was seized by an alligator and drowned at the Seven Seas Lagoon in Walt Disney World in Orlando.
[Photo by J Pat Carter/AP]