Woman who faced gator to save dog describes ‘horrific’ experience

74-year-old Suzan Marciano was walking her golden retriever mix, Nalu, near a lake at Burt Aaronson Park west of Boca Raton on Aug. 24 when their night turned for the worst. They were both attacked by an alligator.

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Suzan Marciano said she didn’t have time to think when she saw an alligator attacking her dog, an 11-year-old golden retriever mix named Nalu. She just sprang into action.

Marciano, 74, said confronting the alligator to save her beloved dog in a lake in West Boca Raton was “a horrific” experience that she will never forget.

“I still see it so clearly,” Marciano said. “I could draw it, what the shape of that alligator under that water, it was so unmistakable.”

Marciano said she and her two dogs love the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park. The afternoon of Aug. 24 was unexpected.

“I have been walking there for eight years and never, ever seen even a fish in that lake,” Marciano said.

A 74-year-old woman said she feels lucky to have survived after confronting an alligator to rescue her dog in Palm Beach County.

Nalu loves the water. Marciano said she took Nalu’s leash off — just as she had done countless times before. It all happened quickly.

“The alligator turned its head and grabbed the dog,” Marciano said. “I just picked my hands up and stepped into the water and came down on top of the alligator. As I’m pulling away, he grabbed my hand, the alligator grabbed my hand, I just kept pulling and he let go.”

Marciano suffered a puncture wound on her palm that required six stitches. Nalu suffered puncture wounds under her belly and required surgery. Marciano said she knows they are both lucky to be alive and she doesn’t regret her decision to jump in.

“If I hadn’t done what I did, I would have lost her and that would have been even more horrific for me,” Marciano said, adding she will continue going to the park, she is just going to keep her dogs away from the lakes.

About the Author:

Sanela Sabovic joined Local 10 News in September 2012 as an assignment editor and associate producer. In August 2015, she became a full-time reporter and fill-in traffic reporter. Sanela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a concentration in radio, television and film from DePaul University.