Police in Pittsburgh have responded to at least three loose alligator calls in less than month, one of them, a 5-foot-long reptile named Chomp.
At the home of Chomp’s owner, Mark McGowan, authorities also uncovered more than 30 other animals living in “poor conditions,” some of them dead.
Police brought a search warrant to McGowan’s home, along with Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control officers and a reptile expert from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, WTAE reports.
They found and removed:
- 3 alligators, including Chomp, and another with a bloodied neck injury
- 1 Burmese python
- 1 granite Burmese python
- 1 rattlesnake
- 2 green iguanas
- 2 small iguanas
- 1 Nile monitor lizard
- 4 hairless rats
- 4 quails
- 5 yellow-bellied slider turtles (including one dead in the aquarium)
- 6 rabbits (including five pregnant rabbits)
- 2 guinea pigs
McGowan told KDKA that the alligator much have gotten out of a screened window while he was away.
“It must have been raining outside, he went into my living room on my couch, out my window and through my locked in screen,” he said.
McGowan didn’t call the police because he was afraid he would be treated like a criminal.
“Reptile owners aren’t able to call anybody because then they’re bad people, people don’t like reptiles,” he said.
McGowan is licensed through the PA Department of Agriculture as a Reptile and Amphibian Dealer. He takes his animals to reptile expos and shows them off for educational purposes.
Now, he says he just wants his alligator back.
“Chomp, I can hold him. I can lay on the couch and he lays with me there’s hundreds of people who see this, who know Chomp, who hold him, kiss him, and take pictures with him. He’s harmless,” McGowan says.
He added, he’s unsure of whether the alligator is feeling as comfortable lodged at an animal shelter than he would be back at McGowan’s Beechview home.
“They have him back into a corner, six officers poking at him with bright lights at night they’re his predators.”
Also in June, police also found a 2 1/2-foot-long gator on the front porch of a home in the Carrick neighborhood. In late May, they found a small alligator in Southside Riverfront Park.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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