A Hilton Head Island family’s dog is killed by a 7-foot alligator, when the gator attacks the 85-pound husky, Kodah. The dog had been drinking from the neighborhood lagoon in the Indigo Run community, when it was attacked little over a week ago; now the family wants to send a warning message to neighbors.
The gator that killed the 5-year-old husky was trapped on Monday morning by Joe Maffo with Critter Management. The gator was loaded into a truck to be taken to be euthanized. Maffo says that’s protocol, since the alligator showed aggression in coming after the dog.
Maffo guessed that the male gator is about 18 to 20 years old, weighing between 80 and 100 pounds; he says that’s about the size of an average gator in the Hilton Head area. It is set to be destroyed, harvested for its hide and meat.
The dog’s owner, Ron Julseth, last saw the gator as it was circling his dog in the lagoon.
“I came down here, walked down here, and saw Kodah floating in the middle of the pond…and the alligator was circling him and nudging him,” Julseth says.
Kodah was like a family member to Julseth. He says his family usually kept him on a leash, responsibly. However, Kodah slipped out of their door early that March 16 morning when Julseth was tied-up feeding the family’s other, smaller dogs.
“It is devastating. He was always on our, he was the dog that was always on our Christmas card every year. He was a big ‘ol gentle bear,” Julseth says.
Julseth says a neighbor saw Kodah drink water from the lagoon, when the alligator snapped at the dog’s head and pulled it into the water. He was able to assist Critter Management staff in removing the dog’s remains from the lagoon, in effort to prevent the gator from eating the carcass. Maffo believes the gator would have eaten him later.
“He would have taken the dog and stashed it somewhere, under a reed ball or some tree limbs or branches, anything. He would stuff it up under them and over time as it decayed, take a mouthful and roll,” Maffo says.
Julseth questions, what if the 85-pound dog was instead a child who was playing by the lagoon?
“There’s a bunch of grandfathers and grandmothers here. They could have had their grandson or granddaughter over playing in the back yard or looking down at the water. The gator will come out of the water and chase them or attack them,” he says.
He hopes more gators can be removed from his neighborhood. “It’s not that we want all alligators killed and harvested, that’s not the point,” he says.
Julseth does say he believes the purpose in removing the gators from his neighborhood is to prevent them from attacking dogs like his or people, in the future.
Maffo cautions pet owners, advising them to keep them on leashes. He also advises children be supervised. He says April, May and June are mating season, and there is typically more activity in nearby ponds and lagoons.
Pictured: Kodah with owner, Ron Julseth