Couple Greeted by 12-Foot Alligator on Front Porch

Courtesy Arthur Andrews

A 12-foot alligator kept a South Carolina couple practically hostage in their home for nearly five hours Saturday before it was captured and taken away.

Diana Andrews opened the front door of the Hilton Head Island home she shares with her husband, Arthur, around 5:30 a.m. Saturday to take the couple's Scottish Terrier for a walk. Instead, she found herself face-to-snout with an alligator.

"I was in bed and heard her open the door and then scream and then heard the door slam," Arthur Andrews told "I went running out and looked outside."

"The dog couldn't have been two feet from the gator's mouth when my wife grabbed him by his tail and pulled him back into the house, so she had to get that close too," he said.

The Andrews called the security officer of their gated community who arrived in his pickup truck and attempted to scare the gator back into the lagoon that neighbors the couple's home. When that only made the gator more agitated the guard told the Andrews they'd have to "Call the professionals."

For the next two hours the Andrews watched the gator from the safety of their front window, as he continued to "kind of case the house," according to Andrews, until "professionals" from Critters Management Inc. arrived.

Believing that Andrews' over-the-phone description of the gator as "about 10 feet" would be a typical situation, in which the gator is actually about two feet but the homeowner is scared, the company only sent one man, Joe Maffo, to chase the gator away.

"When he saw it, he said there was no way," Andrews recalled, adding that Maffo estimated the gator to weigh about 1,000 pounds.

Maffo first used a snare to try to coax the gator but when the gator snapped the steel cable he turned to a second approach, using both a snare and ropes to secure the gator to a nearby tree. He then left and came back to the couple's home with reinforcement - six additional colleagues - who taped and tied the gator's mouth and legs shut so they could remove the animal from the Andrews' lawn.

"It was five hours minimum from the time we saw him to the time they took him away," Andrews said.

Andrews believes the alligator was euthanized because its size and aggression prevented it from being released. A representative for Critter Management confirmed to that the alligator was harvested by the company.

Andrews says he and his wife stocked up on flashlights for their early morning walks but things have otherwise returned to normal, sighting gators in their backyard, not at their front door.

"Things are back to the normal, calm Hilton Head lifestyle," Andrews said. "The gators were here before us and we just have to learn to live with them."

"But that was an awfully scary episode," he added.

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