A Pasco County man is warning others about the dangers of feeding alligators after his horse was attacked by a gator.
Mike Santo said he knew something was wrong with his 21-year-old horse Crown when he went to feed him around 5 p.m. on June 27. He saw that Crown had a large gash on the back of his hindquarters that was 10 inches wide and about a quarter-inch deep.
Santo said that Crown had been in his pasture and must have gone into a pond to cool off and an alligator attacked him from behind. His injury looked awful.
“My first thought when I saw him was, let’s assess this. It was bad, and you can’t help but think is he going to make it?” said Santo.
Santo said it will take 8-to-10 months of daily therapy for the large wound to heal. “Crown has a long road ahead, it’s incredibly hot and infections grow in heat,” said Santo.
Santo believes that people have been feeding the gator that attacked his horse.
“Not only myself, but FWC trappers know that someone has been feeding this gator. He comes directly to you when he sees you. That is a telltale sign of a gator that has been fed,” said Santos.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that alligators can overcome their natural weariness when they are fed.
“I’m not faulting the gator in this attack. We’ve had Crown for 18 years. He has swam in literally hundreds of ponds, and gators usually keep their distance,” said Santo.
He wants people to know they should not feed wild animals, especially alligators. “My advice is feeding a wild gator is a death sentence for that animal,” said Santo.
When gators overcome their natural weariness because of being fed by humans, they have to be trapped and killed.
It is illegal to feed an alligator in Florida.
Santos is a professional cowboy. Crown has performed in rodeos and has also worked cows. A GoFundMe account has been created for Crown. Learn more here.