Is it a danger next door or a friendly neighborhood pet? Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, says a 5-foot-long alligator is safe to stay.
Pittsburgh's WPXI-TV went to check out the alligator Wednesday, and reporter Cara Sapida said it never snapped in the hour she was there. Sapida said it was surprisingly friendly and affectionate toward its owner, Randy Thomas.
“(We) went to exotic pet show in Pittsburgh. We thought it was small black caiman,” Thomas said.
That was 10 years ago. Since then, Jackie the gator has become part of Thomas’ family.
“She likes being rubbed underneath her head,” Thomas said.
Thomas, who brings Jackie out of her cage a couple times a week, said the majority of the neighbors embrace the animal.
“All the neighborhood kids come and feed the alligator,” Thomas said.
One neighbor made an anonymous call to the Washington Area Humane Society and complained. Thomas said police, humane officers and the game commission have been to the house and approved.
“I told them, ‘I’m not breaking any laws or ordinances, but I’ll show you she is well taken care of,’” Thomas said.
Thomas said Jackie could never escape her secure cage and aside from some tail whipping, she is no threat.
“If I was going to get bit, she would have bit me a long time ago,” he said.
Thomas said he knows alligator owners who keep their pets’ mouths taped shut, but he said there is no need to do that with Jackie.
Thomas said Jackie lives in his basement in the winter and if given a bigger baby pool than she has, she would grow much larger.