Penn Township police officers, including Officer John Carbaugh (pictured), captured this juvenile American alligator that was spotted in a back yard in the
Penn Township police officers, including Officer John Carbaugh (pictured), captured this juvenile American alligator that was spotted in a back yard in the first block of Forry Avenue on Sunday morning. (Courtesy of Penn Twp. Police)

When Penn Township Police found themselves with a reptile problem on Sunday, they didn't have the luxury of calling the "Gator Boys" for help.

"The officers knew how fast that thing could move on land," township Police Chief Jim Laughlin said of the juvenile American alligator found in a yard on Forry Avenue about 9:15 a.m. "There were too many kids around to wait."

So three officers and a detective took matters into their own hands, Laughlin said. And by matters, he means "gator."

"We have no training in catching alligators," he acknowledged.

Detective Jeffrey Sneeringer later told his chief they wrestled the hissing reptile into submission using techniques seen on reality TV shows, according to Laughlin.

"He's the one who wrangled it," the chief said. He said all four cops did a great job.

Noose: After cornering the gator, Officer John Carbaugh slipped a noose over the animal's snout and secured it around its neck while his colleagues held it partially off the ground so it couldn't run off, Laughlin said.

Then Sneeringer held the 3-foot-long-plus alligator while another officer used duct tape to tape its mouth shut, the chief said.

They put the reptile in a large plastic bin and drove it back to their police station.

A local animal-control officer picked up the alligator and took it to the York County SPCA, where it remained for several hours until a local reptile rescuer picked it up, according to Executive Director Melissa Smith.


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Since then, quite a few jokes have been made at the police station about the odd incident, but officers also knew it was serious, the chief said.

"As funny as the situation is, there were kids outside," he said. "It could have been dangerous."

Kids outside: In fact, there were kids playing outside when the young alligator was first spotted hunkered down near a woodpile in the first block of Forry Avenue, Laughlin said.

The officers responding to the 911 call were skeptical they would actually find a gator when they arrived.

"They believed it was a large lizard -- until they saw it," Laughlin said. "And then there was no doubt."

The chief said the gator was well cared for and most likely a pet whose owner simply released it when he or she could no longer care for it. He also suspects the gator didn't live far from that neighborhood.

"Just when you think you've seen it all, something like this happens," Laughlin said.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.