by Lesley Scott
I have always loved all reptiles, but a big alligator really gives me a rush!
It was one of those perfect days on duty as the Animal Control Officer for the City of Goose Creek. In 1986, most of my complaints were about copperheads on front porches and alligators in plenty of odd places like elementary schools and inon busy highways.The young city, like a garden, continued to grow and animals became displaced as each fancy new subdivision started the bull dozing. At that time,Goose Creek was well known for its dense population of alligators, and a myriad of other wildlife and reptiles.
Alligators have remained on this earth for over 150 million years, around before the dinosaurs. It was late afternoon and I dragged a small, 5 foot 'gator, covered with green slime, hiding in a drainpipe. Apparently, some kids shot him in the eye with a pellet gun. He was a bit stinky, but tired enough to handle easily. Naturally, I drew a crowd, but no one offered to help. Lucky for me, I was strong enough to drag him tail first into the back of my animal control truck.
The 'gator's wound didn't seem very serious. but may become blind in that eye. Alligators are armed with amazingly thick, hard scales. Their eyes have a thick membrane for protection while underwater, They tuck in those stumpy legs and use their powerful tail to move underwater. These primitive creatures are graceful under water, and have lightening-quick reflexes.
I parked my truck in the dingy, crowded parking lot at the police department. The garbage trucks all parked there too, what a stink! At that time, Goose Creek P.D.occupied a small building with only a few rooms. I knew better than to leave any reptile in a vehicle in this heat, so I just picked the 'gator up the best I could, resting on my hip, punched in my code, and entered the building. No big deal. Everyone was on the street. My Chief would fuss at me, for sure. I never worried about it and did what I felt should be done.
I carefully placed the gator in the restroom so I could eat my pb&j sandwich in the dispatch office. The dispatcher, Gwen Holmes, was a level headed woman who had been on the job for 25 years. She knew where all of her officers were at all times and what they were doing. She was unflappable during shootouts, hostage situations, anything that can happen in a growing town, she knew what to do and say. Gwen was professional.
Sometimes, I would help out in the dispatch office, answering phones or running license plates or bringing Gwen her supper. That day, I was perched on a stool, chewing my sandwich. I heard Gwen gasping, and grabbing my arm, and pointing. This was most unusual for the woman who has seen and heard everything. Well, I guess it wasn't exactly everything until that time.
The confined alligator somehow loosened his bindings and was just turning the corner into the dispatch room like he was coming to see what we were doing. He turned the corner and walked into the small dispatch office like he belonged.
Since alligators are probably not allowed in the dispatch office, I climbed down from my stool to restrain the adventurous reptile. His time recovering in the restroom made the gator potenially dangerous. I have handled larger gators, so he was no problem for me.
I laughed as I recaptured the growling and hissing reptile and tied his mouth shut again. 'Gwen,' I told her as I recaptured him, 'This is the first time in 25 years that I've known you to be 'lost for words'!'
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