DELTONA, Fla. (WSVN) — Winston the chocolate Labrador Retriever is lucky to be alive after a close call with a predator. His owner was forced to fire at the gator invader in his backyard.

The homeowner near Orlando had to think fast when the alligator started attacking his chocolate lab in his backyard. The more than seven-foot-long reptile latched onto the side of his head. That was when the homeowner grabbed his gun and shot it four times.

“I don’t even think there was a thought. I think it was – my heart just dropped, and I was like, ‘OK, I have to go do something,'” said the homeowner. “So, I mean, you just spring into action and do what you have to do to save your dog. Twenty seconds later, probably would’ve had a dead dog.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came out to help get rid of the gator.

Winston is doing OK; he had a minor puncture wound on his ear.

“Leading up to the alligator breeding season, a lot of the alligators are going to be out, and they’re going to be looking for potential mates,” said Winston’s owner. “They’re going to be a little more aggressive, so if you live anywhere near water, just make sure that you’re checking your yard because something like this can happen in a split second.”

The homeowner said the terrifying encounter will make him think twice about where he goes and allows his dog to go.

“I’m not necessarily nervous, just kind of more on edge and more aware of the surroundings and double-checking every time before I let the dog out by himself,” he said.

The homeowner said the game warden believes the gator got in through a damaged portion of his fence.

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