Alligator attack raises awareness for safety, caution
A recent alligator attack on a Newton resident's dog leads to discussions on safety near local waters.On Friday, Sept. 1, Tim Hefler said he witnessed his four-year-old Australian-Shepherd Husky mix be attacked in the river at Hutto Park in Newton.Hefler said he was walking his dogs off leash in the park when the incident occurred."They ran past the public boat launch ramp where two men were fishing, so the dogs did not go to the end of the ramp to swim as they usually do," Hefler said. "(Friday) as I left the men at the boat ramp and continued my walk, my two dogs continued ahead of me thru the woods along a trail to a point where a small creek from the right intersects with the river. My dogs always run down the point and jump into the water for a quick swim to cool off."He said his Australian-Shepherd Husky went into the river a few feet to swim."I knew she was doing this even though she was out of my sight," he said.Hefler said he heard his dog "yelping and yipping" and the sound of "splashing water.""As I emerged from the woods, all I could see was my husky’s face looking towards me as she was being pulled out to the middle and under the muddy flowing river." Hefler said.He said he did not see the alligator, but he knew that was what attacked and killed his dog. He said an alligator attacked his son’s black Labrador last year in the same area.After the incident on Sept. 1, he said he contacted local police and the game warden.Hefler said he hopes to bring awareness to locals visiting the river.Lt. Randall Lee, with the Department of Conservation, said alligators could be found in waters throughout Alabama.He said he has received information about the incident in Newton, which he calls an unusual event."That's not a normal situation. They're usually kind of shy," he said.Alligators that are fed by humans could stay around the area they were fed. According to Lee, these alligators are called nuisance alligators.Typically, alligators feed on small animals, he said. There are state regulations, he said, preventing the feed or molesting of alligators in the wild.Lee said there are signs at the river that tell visitors to not wade or swim in the water to prevent incidents where individuals could be harmed. There are no signs that specifically state to be aware of alligators.When spending time around rivers where alligators have been sighted or are suspected of staying, Lee said it was important to use caution and common sense around water."Keep animals on a leash, or stay away from the river and boat ramps," he said.For individuals who are traveling on the river for fishing or entertainment that come across an alligator, he said to "bypass them if possible."