75-year-old Buddy Ackerman wasn’t prepared for what would happen when he took his daughter’s dog, Osi, out for his usual morning walk, while she was on vacation in Orlando.
It was dark outside, about 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when Ackerman and the golden retriever he was caring for stepped out into the grassy area behind his condominium in Palm Harbor, near Tampa, Florida along the Gulf Coast.
“He walked along here and I’m just coming with him,” Ackerman relates. “And he settles on right where there’s no grass down there.” Right alongside the edge of the retention pond.
Just as Osi squatted to take care of his business, “all of a sudden I see the water rippling right along in here. Almost seemed like an explosion.” An 8-foot alligator grabbed Osi by his hindquarters.
Ackerman slipped and fell on the ground in his attempt to rescue the dog, thankfully attached with a stout harness and retractable leash.
As soon as he regained his feet, Ackerman started to karate kick the feisty gator. Kicking it in the snout until it let go of the golden retriever. “He was squealing a good bit when the thing grabbed him. I go up and slip and fall on my rear end. And the two of us are tugging — alligator is going one way, I’m going the other.”
“I just start kicking at the alligator, I hit him a couple of times in the snout and that’s what caused him to let go, perhaps. The thing opened his mouth and backed up a little.”
Osi is a little scratched and sore but mostly unharmed. Ackerman says he’s “glad the dog wasn’t bite-sized.”
“I don’t know what would happen with people with a little Pekingese or something running around. I guess we’d say goodbye.”
“I mean, I had this dog on a collar or a halter that went around. It wasn’t going to slip off. If I had had a regular collar at that and it slipped off, he would’ve been gone.”
“I’m chalking it up to good luck. I was worried more about my daughter and how she would feel.”
Daughter Jodi thinks he’s a hero. “My father is our hero, Osi and I are so very grateful that nobody was hurt.” She’s not taking any more chances though, she now has the dog back in the Orlando area.
Ackerman called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline and officials soon trapped the beast. At least they think it is the same alligator.
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Neighbors reported an “even larger gator” in that same pond. State officials warn incidents like this are all too common and advise owners to keep pets on a leash at all times and away from water.
Last year, a woman in South Carolina died when an alligator dragged her into a pond while she tried to rescue her dog.