Orlando Sentinel - A stunned Steve Gustafson thought only of saving his "best friend" from the jaws of a 7-foot alligator carrying away his terrier for a quick meal.
Gustafson was trimming his oak tree while the gator lurked in a quiet pond nearby. Bounce, a West Highland Terrier, was at the water's edge when Gustafson heard a blood-curdling yelp.
Terrified, he looked out and watched the gator swimming away with Bounce's shoulder and collar in his grasp. "I just knew that my best friend was going to be dead," he said. "And I took off."
Gustafson scrambled to the water's edge and took a running leap. "For whatever reason, I don't know, I just yelled, 'you're not going to get her!' and just leaped on the gator…just like you do some silly belly flop in a pool," he said. "The only difference was I landed on top of a gator."
Within seconds he said he wrangled the reptile's head to the bottom of the pond while grabbing its back leg. The 130-pound gator spun trying to submerge them all in 3 feet of water, but Gustafson regained his balance and shoved the gator toward the shore, a move that freed Bounce.
The pooch slowly paddled for safety as Gustafson tossed the startled gator back into the pond, but not before it snapped at his right hand.
Back on land, Bounce coughed water from her lungs. Her rabies tag was bent from the gator's jaws and the reptile's grip ripped her skin. Bounce and Gustafson later received medical treatment and a couple of stitches.
"It's like being in a really bad car accident and walking away from it," said Gustafson.
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Written by Erica Rodriguez
Image via ABC News