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Gator trapped after killing a dog named Bella in a South Tampa townhome community

9:59 PM, Jul 30, 2012   |    comments
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  • FWC Alligator trapper bringing in the alligator that killed a dog named Bella in a South Tampa townhome community.
  • Bella, the dog sadly eaten by a gator in a South Tampa townhome community pond.



Palm River, Florida - Inside the apartment, Bella's bowl and bed remain. Jimmy Radder can't bear to get rid of them yet; his loss is just too fresh.

"She was very intelligent," he says while looking at some photographs of his dog. "She was just a good best friend you know."

It was last Thursday that Radder lost his best friend.  The four-year-old Catahoula was running off the leash near a pond in his townhome complex, when Bella was grabbed by a gator.

"She just yelped really loud, two times and I turned around and saw the flopping in the water," describes Radder. "I just fell to my knees and just cried to God. I just hope it was quick and painless, you feel like it was your child, not just a dog."

From inside his home Maury Alston heard Radder's anguished cries. "Oh, he was just like on the ground, just in tears," says Alston who came running.

After Bella's death, residents wanted the gator gone. They worried about kids at play. "If it takes a dog, that could have easily been a kid, this close to homes, I think that's a bit of an emergency," says Alston.

"It could have easily been a child, easily," agrees Radder.

Residents posted cardboard alligator warning signs by the pond. Still their worries grew by the day as they waited on trappers contracted by the state.

See photos of the FWC Trappers bringing in the gator

FWC spokesman Gary Morse says it's not unusual for trappers to arrive several days after a nuisance gator report, if the FWC decides it is a non-emergency situation.

If an alligator is an immediate threat to people, pets or property, a trapper will be dispatched immediately. Morse says an alligator at a school bus stop, under a car or in someone's pool would qualify as an emergency.

On Monday about noon, trappers did come to the pond armed with fishing poles and a tape recording of baby gators. The recording lured the alligator to the surface and it didn't take long for a trapper to snag it with a hook.

With Radder and others looking on, the trappers secured the gator and loaded it into a truck.  Because the alligator is over four feet in length, it will be destroyed.

Residents of the complex say they're relieved, but wildlife experts say Bella's death should be a warning to people living anywhere in Florida-- if there's water, there could be a gator.

The state Nuisance Alligator Hotline number is 1-866-FWC-Gator or 866-392-4286. For more information on the program click here.


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