The man told authorities that he thought he heard a dog growling in the bushes near the path he was walking prior to the attack, per multiple reports
Officials said a Florida man mistook an alligator for a dog before he was attacked by the reptile early Tuesday morning, per multiple reports.
The man was walking outside the Warm Mineral Springs Motel in North Port around 12:35 a.m. on Tuesday when the 7-foot reptile latched onto his right leg, according to CBS affiliate WTSP-TV and NBC affiliate WFLA-TV.
He told authorities that he thought he heard a dog growling in the bushes near the path he was walking prior to the attack, per the reports.
The 49-year-old victim was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Venice, according to ABC affiliate WFTS-TV.
The Warm Mineral Springs owner told WTSP-TV that he visited the man, who is “thankfully going to be okay,” as he recovered in the hospital.
The details of his condition remain unclear.
Meanwhile, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office captured and trapped the attacking gator before a licensed trapper arrived and removed the animal, per the report.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Witnesses told Fort Meyers’ NBC affiliate WBBH-TV that the victim was attempting to smoke a cigarette outside of the motel on South Tamiami Trail when the attack occurred.
A sheriff’s office spokesperson said in an email to WTSP-TV that the man said “the figure appeared to look like a dog with a long leash, which is why he wasn’t hesitant to move out of the way.”
The victim was subsequently attacked by the alligator, which was “holding” onto his leg “and pulling on his muscle/tissue,” the sheriff’s office said, per WFTS-TV.
As the man attempted to get away, the gator tore off a portion of his leg, per the reports. One witness recalled the incident in an interview with WBBH-TV, saying the man’s partner yelled for help after the attack began.
“She was screaming and hollering for me to come out and help, so that’s why I went out there,” said the witness, identified by the outlet as Will.
The victim was able to get the attention of a nearby deputy, who was on the scene of an unrelated call, according to WTSP. The officer called paramedics, who responded to the scene.
Sgt. James Achille was the man to capture the alligator before the trapper’s arrival on-scene, the outlet reported.
Authorities believe the gator emerged from a drain located on the side of the road near the motel, per WBBH.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was also at the scene, WTSP reported. The commission is investigating the incident, according to WFLA-TV.