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West Palm Beach man loses two fingers from gator bite

A 66-year-old West Palm Beach man was recovering at Palms West Hospital after he was bitten by an alligator just before 8 a.m. Saturday, July 18. David Grounds lost two fingers on his right hand in the incident.

Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) say Grounds let his dog out unleashed in his waterfront backyard. Grounds told FWC investigators he watched as his dog, a Wheaton terrier, went right to the water’s edge.

At that point, an alligator grabbed the dog, and as Grounds was trying to rescue it, the gator bit him on the hand. One finger was totally severed; the other was partially severed. Grounds told investigators he was aware of the gator’s presence prior to the incident.

Grounds’ dog was treated for a laceration to its stomach and is expected to survive. A trapper removed and euthanized a 7-foot, 2-inch alligator from the water behind Grounds’ home.

In the past 60 years, there have been 315 unprovoked bites on people by alligators in Florida, and 22 have resulted in a human fatality.

Bite statistics show alligators rarely see humans as potential prey, however, dogs and cats look very similar to other small mammals – such as rabbits, possums and raccoons – gators have preyed on for years. The FWC cautions owners that pets should remain on a leash, away from the water or in a fenced-in area at all times.

If you encounter an alligator you believe poses a threat to humans, pets or livestock, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline: 1-866-FWC-GATOR (1-866-392-4286).