66-year-old man wrestles an alligator to save his best friend

Last Friday, Steve Gustafson, a 66-year-old grandfather, wrestled an alligator to save his 9-year-old West Highland terrier, Bounce.

Gustafson was outside trimming trees at his home in Sumter County, Florida when he heard Bounce yelp. He turned and saw an 7-foot alligator taking the dog to a nearby pond. “Without thinking, I said, you’re not going to get her,” Gustafson continued, “I just knew that my best friend was going to be dead and I took off.” He ran to the pond and jumped in, belly flopping onto the gator. Gustafson grabbed the gator’s back leg. The gator let go of Bounce and snapped at Gustafson’s hand. Before the gator got him a second time Gustafson grabbed the gator’s nose and he said, “hung on like they show on TV.”

When Gustafson let go to help Bounce, who was too tired and water logged to get to safety, the gator retreated. Gustafson and Bounce got safely to shore. Gustafson suffered a bite wound to his hand and some bruises but other than that both he and Bounce were okay. The gator was trapped and killed two days later by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer. Gustafson is relieved to have his best friend safe, “When people ask [about] my reaction – I didn’t have a choice. If I hesitated I would have lost my best friend.”


  1. Anonymous says on  09/19/2012 at 2:47 pm

    Yay!!!! Finally a happy story!! What a hero

  2. Cheryl F says on  09/20/2012 at 12:56 pm

    Steve Gustafson you are a hero and a darn good story teller to boot! I’m so happy you rescued your cute little pooch and got away with all your limbs intact! Many happy days to you and Bounce!

  3. Anonymous says on  09/23/2012 at 4:24 am

    Wonderful. So the gator was acting like a gator and was killed. I’m glad the dog was saved. I’m glad Mr. Gustafson is ok. Why did the gator have to be killed?

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