TAMPA – Most times when dogs tangle with an alligator, they come out badly on the short end of encounter, but Sophie, a 12-year-old basset hound came home from an animal hospital this weekend after a gator clamped the dog in its mouth.
Ruth White, Sophie’s owner, said her father, David Frame, was taking care of Sophie while her family visited Siesta Key last week.
Frame, also walking his own dog, was about five feet from a golf course pond at the Eagles subdivision in Odessa about 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Both dogs were on leashes.
The alligator lunged from the pond, snapped its jaws on the basset hound and tried to drag the 50-pound dog back to the water, White said.
Frame yelled and pounded the ground with a stick to distract the alligator. The reptile dropped and grabbed Sophie several times before giving up, White said.
Sophie was fortunate, White said. The gator’s jaws closed on the dog’s hind quarters and abdomen instead of the ribs and chest.
“She was lucky no organs were hurt,” White said.
“It wasn’t trying to bite through her like a tiger. It was trying to take her into the water and drown her,” she said.
Still Sophie was in bad shape. She had multiple large lacerations and puncture wounds and had difficulty breathing, said Terry Corona, a veterinarian at Florida Veterinary Services who treated the dog.
In two years, Sophie is only the second dog bitten by a gator that lived long enough to need her care.
“We don’t get to see these cases often. Usually they’re too far gone,” Corona said.
Sophie spent one night in emergency care at Florida Veterinary Specialists until she was stable, and then transferred to the clinic’s critical care area until Saturday when she was released to her owners.
“Sophie is quite a story. She’s a fighter,” Corona said.
This story was originally published Monday, May 24, 2010 on TBO.com.