Pierce County deputies remove pet alligator from shipping container

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The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in Washington state responded to a complaint earlier this month that someone was keeping an alligator as a pet, which is illegal to do in Washington State.

It was the second complaint for the gator. The first time deputies tried to locate the gator, it was nowhere to be found on the property in Lakebay. When deputies went back Oct. 20, they met a 32-year-old man who was the alligator’s owner.

What they discovered next was interesting.

Pierce County Sheriff's Department “Al,” the 6’7” alligator was being stored inside a shipping container, along with a calf who appeared to be very sick, Sgt. Darren Moss Jr., public information officer for the Sheriff’s Department, told the Gateway on Tuesday. A 3-foot gate was separating the two.

The 32-year-old man, who was not the property owner, appeared to be living inside the shipping container with the two animals.

Deputies told the pet owner they would be back the next day to take Al.

They gave the man the opportunity to seek vet care for the calf, and warned him they’d take the calf too if he didn’t, Moss said.

On Oct. 21 deputies returned to the property with animal control and met a woman who was the owner of the property.

She took deputies to the shipping container. Al was the only one in there.

Both the man and the calf had left.

The relationship between the property owner and animal owner was unclear.

Keeping the gator was not an option.

“You’re not allowed to possess an alligator in Washington state at all,” Moss said.

Under dangerous animal laws for Washington state: “It is illegal to own animals that pose a threat to people, livestock, or domestic animals,” according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s website. Alligators fall into the dangerous animal category.

Heat is essential for reptiles, and the alligator didn’t seem to have it inside the shipping container. There were no windows, and the alligator wasn’t left much room to move around, Moss said.

The animal control officers, with the assistance of some deputies, were able to wrangle the alligator.

“One of the deputies actually helped keep the mouth closed while the animal control’s holding it down,” Moss said.

Body cam footage shows deputies and animal control working together to lift the gator into the vehicle.

“You’re a good boy Al,” one of them tells the reptile as they loaded him up. “You’re going to go play in a big open area with some other alligators.”

Once they got the alligator into the vehicle, they transported it to the local Humane Society, where he was handed off to someone from a wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary.

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