By: Jen Russon
Since they moved into their Heron Bay community last September, the Wood family has welcomed lots of people into their Coral Springs home – but they usually walk in on two legs.
This was not the case when, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, an unusual guest appeared at George and Kimberly’s door.
At around 3:30 a.m., their rescue dog Freckles, a three-year-old husky lab mix, began barking incessantly. Kimberly, an airline pilot, was preparing to leave for work while their two daughters, ages 14 and 2, slept through the commotion.
When the couple saw what Freckles was so upset about, they couldn’t have been more stunned: an alligator measuring more than 7 and a half feet in length, reacted to Freckles barking, by thrashing and hissing on the paved area by their front door.
“My first thought was, holy shi-nikies, what are we gonna do now?” said George.
Having lived most of his life in Hollywood, and several years in Coral Springs’ Wyndham Lakes and Heron Bay, he was used to Everglades wildlife; still, he’d never dealt with anything like this before.
“Even though we have a canal just a couple of blocks to the east and west of us, I’d never had this happen before, or any of my neighbors either,” said the former parks and recreation director for the city of Margate.
George, now a stay-at-home dad to his toddler, who is home to greet his older daughter when she arrives from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School each afternoon, said it was worrisome to have such a big reptile in the path the family can’t avoid using on their way to work and school.
He said if Freckles hadn’t alerted them something was wrong, it was likely his wife wouldn’t have seen the gator before she stepped on it on her way to the car.
His first thought in trying to contain the animal was to phone the gated community’s security workers.
“They didn’t believe us at first,” Wood laughed. “They had to come down and see it for themselves.”
They then contacted Coral Springs Police, who called Gator Boys, an alligator rescue team who work out of Everglades Holiday Park.
A duo named Gabby and Christopher, who said they preferred to keep their last names off the record, taped the alligator’s mouth shut and removed it to an open grassy area on the Wood’s property.
“They worked with her, subduing her until they tired her out and then put her in their truck,” said Wood, who was told by the two experts they had a female gator on their hands.
“They named her Daisy and told us she could live out the rest of her life at Holiday Park.”
Gabby, with Gator Boys, said it’s always nice to rescue an alligator, rather than risk seeing it trapped and later euthanized. She advised that any family in Wood’s situation should keep their distance from alligators, and immediately call authorities.
Gator Boys, who can only be summoned by a law enforcement officer, said their goal is not to harm alligators while returning them to their natural habitat.
The Wood Family said they all agree that an alligator, no matter how unwelcome in their home, is better off rescued than trapped.
“We wish Daisy all the best,” said Wood.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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