As the saying goes, a dog is a man’s best friend. Those words could not truer for this one Florida golfer who jumped into a lake on the course to rescue the dog he’s looking from a sudden alligator attack.
On a recent Friday afternoon, Carbon dug his paws into the grass and chased golf balls along one of the courses at the Olde Cypress community in North Naples. It was a warm day in late January. Ever the competitive dock jumper, Carbon decided to take a swim and cool off in a lake. The black Labrador didn’t realize there was a gator swimming toward him as he paddled in the water.
Donald C. Copps, a part-time Olde Cypress resident who has been looking after Carbon for a friend, jumped into the water. He wasn’t sure what he was doing at the time, but he hoped it would save the dog. Copps desperately splashed in the water, and two friends who were on the golf course with him, Brian and Yuliya Vail, hollered to distract the gator. It bit Carbon’s left thigh, but the dog got away.
“By the time I gathered my senses, the dog was out of the water and I’m in it up to my chest, just feet from the gator,” Copps said. Carbon made it out with a few long scrapes and puncture wounds. Copps backed slowly out of the water to check on his four-legged friend.
“He was crying, yelping,” Copps said. “I put him on a golf cart, went home to change my wet clothes and took him to an ER. He was spooked. We all were.”
“The dog was really lucky,” said Dr. Lon Miyahira, the veterinarian who treated Carbon the night he was taken to the animal clinic. “When I hear alligator bite or attack, I expect worse. It’s hard to recommend jumping into the water, but it’s probably why the dog was not badly injured.”
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