It started off as a normal Saturday morning for David Grounds of West Palm Beach, Fla. He woke up and let family dog Mandy out in the backyard. But instead of returning to her home, Mandy was snatched by a 7-ft.-long alligator, and Grounds, 66, knew he had to do whatever he could to save her.
Instantly running after the animals, Grounds freed his 7-year-old Wheaten terrier from the gator's grasp, keeping its jaws open with his hands while poking its eyes with his pinky finger. But once Mandy was safe, Grounds faced another hurdle: how to save himself from the hungry creature.
"When he released Mandy for a split second he was still frozen, and he didn't move," Grounds said of the gator on the Today show Thursday morning. "I'm thinking, 'Okay, that was easy, but now what do I do?' I knew I only had a split second before it started reacting, and I tried to throw him and run to the right. But, unfortunately, he caught my right hand."
The angry gator then began twisting Grounds's right hand in a move the reptiles use to subdue their prey. "I knew I was in big trouble when he had my hand and he was twisting, but in a split second he had broken my fingers off," Grounds said. Ultimately, Grounds lost his right index and ring fingers, but luckily, escaped otherwise unharmed. The gator, a frequent visitor to the family's backyard, was later captured by authorities and euthanized.
Mandy, who has been with the family since she was just a pup, suffered some cuts around her midsection, but is otherwise on track for a smooth recovery. And Grounds, who was released from the hospital Wednesday, is taking his physical loss in stride. "It wasn’t a bad trade," he said. "Mandy for two fingers."