Watch Gator

by Dennis

You all talked about animals last week, and I seem to be a week behind. So here is my animal story.

Way back in the 70s I attended the University of Florida in Gainesville. One day I received in the mail a notice – Petition to Graduate. I was terrified. I didn’t know anything. You can’t turn me loose on the world.

So I dropped out, 21 credits short of graduating. I went looking for a job.

Nothing appealed to me, so I joined the Gainesville police department. Of course they weren’t hiring, but advised me to get on with the animal control division and wait for an opening on the force. Animal control consisted of three people – Carl, the boss, his wife, the secretary, and his nephew, Lee, none of whom had finished high school. Well, I took the job, being an animal lover.

I met with some resistance at first. I was the “hippy-yippy” at first, but wormed my way into their hearts.

There were some aspects of the job that I didn’t care for, so I discovered that by positioning on the outskirts of town I could avoid them. However there was a price. The outskirts didn’t handle “dogs running loose” but other problems – snakes, squirrels, opossums and alligators.

One comes to mind right away – about the third gator I caught. He was a teenager, about 5 to 6 feet long, but he had a nasty temper. Gators hiss and spit like a cat, and their breath is terrible. This one took a particular dislike to me. It was probably the capture that made him so angry, but I shan’t go into that now (story for another day). Well, he was a bad ass. He would charge the gate to his pen whenever I walked by.

The animal compound was lightly secured, and we were experiencing many break-ins. Rather than pay the fine for violation of the leash law, people would break in and steal their animals back.

So Carl got the bright idea to turn the gator loose in the compound as a “watch gator” at night. He posted various signs around warning people who chose to “liberate their animals” of our security measures. However, when we discovered a piece of torn jeans on the barbed wire fence and received a call from our captain, this experiment ended.

But Carl still talks of this with a smile in his eyes, and credits me with making that gator “THE MOUTH FROM HELL.”

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