HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – A Hilton Head Island woman was attacked by an 8-foot alligator while walking her dog Thursday morning.

Officials say she took her small dog out around a lagoon in the Hilton Head Plantation neighborhood.

According to Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue, emergency responders were called to the neighborhood shortly after 8 a.m.

Officials say a witness heard a commotion at the lagoon near Rookery Way, where she found the victim in the water with an alligator latched on to her lower leg.

The witness initially got in the water by herself to try to pull the victim back to safety. Her husband then came to the lagoon and together, the two were able to free the victim and call 911.

photo: Eric Sayers

Along with Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue, Hilton Head Plantation security and administrative staff, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies and S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officers responded to the scene.

WSAV is told the victim was taken to a hospital in Savannah for treatment. The dog was not harmed.

“This is an unfortunate incident,” said Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue Deputy Chief. “We advise residents to be aware of their surroundings, especially if they are taking walks with small pets near lagoons that are habitats for alligators.”

David Lucas, a spokesperson for DNR, said the agency will determine whether the alligator involved in Thursday’s attack had been fed. Feeding can cause alligators to begin to associate people with food, Lucas added.

DNR has arranged for the alligator to be removed from the Hilton Head neighborhood and euthanized.

Alligator sightings are not uncommon on Hilton Head — but attacks have been rare.

One attack turned fatal in 2018. Cassandra Cline, 45, died during the attack as she was walking her dog in Sea Pines Plantation.