Owner rescues dog from gator behind Sumter County home

Steve Gustafson injured while saving his dog

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. - A Central Florida man made a daring rescue after his pet dog was attacked by a 7-foot alligator behind his home.

While Steve Gustafson, 66, has a few battle wounds, the 130-pound gator didn't get his beloved dog.

"Three of the big teeth went into my hand," said Gustafson, who was trimming an oak tree Friday behind his home in The Villages when his dog Bounce, a 9-year-old West Highland terrier, got a little too close to the water.

PHOTOS: Owner saves dog from gator

Gustafson said he jumped in the pond, belly-flopping on top of the gator. He said he grabbed hold of the beast's back leg, and the gator whipped around and snapped at his hand.  Before the alligator took a second bite, Gustafson said, "I grabbed his nose and pinned it to the bottom of the pond."

Gustafson and his dog were able to get away, and the gator was trapped and killed two days later by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer.

Gustafson said it's not unusual to spot alligators in the ponds in his neighborhood, but water levels are higher due to recent rains, making it harder to see the gators.

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