As he had done often since retiring from corporate law 12 years ago, Gustafson, 66, went outside to do yard work one afternoon last September. His nine-year-old West Highland white terrier, Bounce, romped nearby.
Suddenly, Gustafson was startled by a terrifying sound. “I heard a scream from Bounce—just bloodcurdling,” he says. “I ran down the hill and saw Bounce in the mouth of an alligator. It was headed right to the water.”
The little dog had wandered into the tall grass along a pond, about 45 feet from Gustafson’s fenceless yard. The alligator, which looked to be at least seven feet long, had sprung from the shallows of the pond and was now holding the dog’s collar between its teeth. It turned away from the bank and began quickly gliding into the water, tugging the dog along with it.