DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (WTXF) - Tracie Hoffecker pulled out her phone when she found an unusual reptile in the creek that flows past her Prospect Park backyard.
“You’re an awfully big turtle,” Tracie said.
Seconds later, she got the shock of her life when she realized another cold blooded creature was lurking feet away.
“Oh my gosh, there’s an alligator in my backyard!” Hoffecker cried.
The turtle was trumped by the three-foot-long gator. It was 8:30 Sunday morning.
“I come down here every day to feed my bees and I never imagined I’d see an alligator,” Hoffecker stated.
Tracie called her cousin Shaun telling him to call 911 because there was an alligator out back.
Luckily, Shaun was 911, a decorated Philadelphia firefighter.
“I was just shocked,” said Shaun Swayngim.
Shaun got over the surprise, instincts kicking in when he realized the reptile needed to be rescued. So, after police and some fellow firefighters arrived, Shaun jumped in the creek, dodging those sharp teeth and powerful jaws to net the alligator.
Borough police say the animal was most likely illegally and inhumanely dumped.
“That creature can’t live here all year. As soon as it gets cold, it’s going to die. That’s horrible. It’s an animal that deserves to live,” Tracie added.
Because the gator was so big, Tracie couldn’t find a rescue willing to take it. She says some folks even recommended killing it, but the cousins were persistent.
“We just kept calling people, calling people, calling people and finally we got a hold of a rescue that would take the animal and take care of it and give it a proper home,” Tracie said.
Shaun’s kids know Daddy’s a hero and this time they got to see him in action.