Odd News

N.Y. man vows to regain 750-pound, 11-foot gator removed from his home

By Mike Heuer   |   March 16, 2024 at 5:18 PM
Members of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation are shown removing "Albert," a blind, 750-pound pet alligator from the home of its owner this week in upstate New York after declaring it a danger. Photo by New York Department of Environmental Conservation/Facebook

March 16 (UPI) -- A man whose 11-foot, 750-pound pet alligator was removed by conservation officials from his home in upstate New York this week has vowed to regain custody of his beloved pet.

Tony Cavallaro of Hamburg, N.Y., had added an in-ground swimming pool to allow his gator "Albert" to swim and cool off while illegally keeping him in his back yard, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation officers said in a news release Friday.

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The alligator is about 30 years old, is blind in both eyes, and has spinal issues, according to the DEC.

The agency alleged Cavallaro allowed members of the public "to get into the water to pet the unsecured alligator."

He previously had a permit to keep the gator, but did not renew it after it expired in 2021, officials said. The lack of a permit, the access given to visitors and the alligator's health caused the DEC to remove Albert "in the interest of public safety and the health, safety and protection of the alligator," the agency said.

Cavallaro told local media he ran an errand Wednesday morning and returned home to discover DEC officers, Hamburg Police and the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at his home with a warrant to remove the alligator.

The DEC said it turned Albert over to licensed caretaker who will care for him until he can be transported elsewhere for proper care. Evidence seized while removing Albert and potential evidence provided by a veterinarian will determine if the state will file charges against Cavallaro.

Cavallaro said in an online petition seeking to regain Albert that he was treated "like a terrorist" when officers removed him and hauled him away in a truck.

He claimed he owned Albert for more than 30 years and normally renewed his permit for the alligator months before its expiration date, but revised regulations and the failure of the DEC to return his phone calls seeking answers to questions regarding them led to the permit's expiration in 2021.

Possessing an animal designated as dangerous, such as an alligator, is prohibited by New York law unless the owner obtains a permit from the DEC. State officials said Cavallaro didn't meet the conditions for ensuring the gator didn't come into contact with people or pose a threat.

Cavallaro told WIVB-TV the revised regulations require him to buy insurance coverage and tape Albert's mouth shut whenever he is around people. The regulations also require Cavallaro to build a fence around the alligator's enclosure to prevent him from getting loose.

He said he has retained an attorney and intends to bring him back to his home.