We've always thought those "Beware of Alligator" signs are obviously tongue-in-cheek warnings that are never meant to give notice of a real live alligator. Otherwise, every cluttered chain restaurant in the nation has some 'splaining to do about what they're housing in their back alleyways.
But on Monday, a Galveston Animal Control Officer stumbled across such a sign posted on the fence of a home on 47th Street and took it at face value.
Good thing he did.
The officer, who apparently has much more foresight than the rest of us, peered through the home's unlocked back gate and discovered a four-foot caiman alligator in the backyard.
According to Galveston police, the alligator was found living in a suitable habitat, complete with a small heated pool and a heated shelter. While those fancy digs sound pretty awesome for any alligator kept in captivity, the officer still had no choice but to confiscate it.
In general, keeping alligators is prohibited within Galveston city limits, so even if the scaly creature was all slap-happy back there in its heated pool, leaving it be was pretty much not going to happen.
The officer did attempt to chat with the homeowner before removing the pet alligator from the residence, but nobody appeared to be home at the time.
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According to police, an initial evaluation of the caiman showed it to be in good health. But, given that the Galveston animal shelter isn't really equipped to handle stray alligators, a lack of proper shelter became an issue until Galveston PD Animal Control sent out a plea for help housing the pretty little beast.
Luckily, Moody Gardens stepped in within the hour and told the department that space had already been made to temporarily house the spoiled gator, who went from some pretty sweet backyard digs to some even sweeter Moody Gardens digs.
Galveston police say a number of permanent placement options are already being considered for this little gator, and quite a few entities have stepped up to offer their help giving this guy a permanent home.
Police told us that the owner was eventually contacted after the animal was confiscated, and she has now been cited for keeping the illegal gator at her home.