Steve Gustafson, 66, was trimming a tree in his yard in The Villages retirement community in Florida with dog Bounce, playing nearby when he heard a terrifying yelp.
When he spun around he saw an alligator had grabbed hold of Bounce's shoulder and was swimming away with her.
Without a thought for his own safety Steve ran to the water and belly flopped on top of the seven foot 130-pound alligator to rescue his 9-year-old West Highland Terrier.
Steve told the Orlando Sentinel, "For whatever reason, I don't know, I just yelled, 'you're not going to get her!' and just leaped on the gator...just like you do some silly belly flop in a pool. The only difference was I landed on top of a gator."
He grabbed the gator's back leg and the pair began to struggle. The reptile whipped around tried to pull both Steve and Bounce under the water. Steve managed to shove it away, freeing Bounce from the reptile's jaws. When the gator lunged at him, Steve grabbed its nose and pinned it underwater, but not before it bit his hand. By this time Bounce was making her way back to shore and Steve quickly followed after, grabbed her and the two made it to dry land safely.
Bounce had a few bite marks by the reptile's grip and Steve had scrapes, bruises and bites. But both dog and owner received medical treatment and will be fine after each got a few stitches.
Two days later Florida Fish and Wildlife trapped and killed the alligator. Steve says he plans to keep a closer eye on Bounce when she's near the water. He said, "When people ask [about] my reaction — I didn't have a choice. If I hesitated I would have lost my best friend."