'We got an alligator in the water': Kiwanis Lake discovery leads to mystery
Todd Brubaker often walks his dog, a Yorkiepoo named Arena, at Kiwanis Lake near his home in York city’s Avenues neighborhood.
On Saturday, a nice March day, he was walking Arena when he saw something he never expected to see in the small lake.
While he was walking, a man approached him and said there’s an alligator in the lake. Brubaker thought the guy was kidding or had been mistaken. Alligators are not exactly indigenous to Kiwanis Lake.
He went to the area where the man said he spotted the ‘gator, and sure enough, there it was.
He thought, “That’s a (bleeping) alligator.”
It might have been some other large reptile, but he believes it was an alligator. It looked like an alligator, about three or three-and-a-half feet long, just chilling, probably literally, in the cold, shallow water near the lake’s shore. It wasn’t moving, just lying on the lake bottom, as ducks swam around it. Gators, being cold-blooded, become lethargic in cold water.
He figured somebody should do something about it, so he called the city police, believing that its animal control officer, or one from the SPCA, would be able to deal with the 'gator. He thought it wouldn’t survive the chilly waters of Kiwanis Lake, and he said he “didn’t want anything to happen to it.”
He called the police to see whether animal control could come out and rescue it. At first, he said, the police dispatcher didn’t believe him. Alligators don’t just show up in Kiwanis Lake.
And he shot a video of it with his phone so that when he told people he had seen an alligator in the lake, they would believe him.
On the video, you can hear Brubaker telling others, “We got an alligator in the water over here.”
“Man, it’s crazy,” he is heard saying on the video. “I never would have thought...”
The 'gator lolled on the lake bottom as Brubaker, and others, looked on. They figured that somebody had gotten the reptile as a pet, and when it grew into a three-to-three-and-a-half-foot long beast with razor sharp teeth, the person believed the solution was to return it to the wild — the wild, in this instance, being a man-made lake in a city park.
Then, the York City Police arrived, and what happened next is not exactly clear.
On social media, mostly Facebook, some commenters on his video were absolutely sure that the ‘gator was rescued by the animal control officer and sent to a shelter or someplace set up to handle alligators.
Others were equally sure that the police shot the ‘gator, something that upsets Brubaker. “I hope somebody came out and got it and didn’t hurt it,” he said.
The SPCA said it wasn’t involved at all, that the city animal control officer handled it. The city police said its animal control officer wasn’t on duty and not available and that the case was referred to the state Game Commission. The game commission warden who was on duty that Saturday said he had heard about it but was told that York City Police handled it.
The warden, Scott Brookins, suspects that the police shot the ‘gator. Not too many people know how to handle the critters and, he believes, reptile rehabs and rescue organizations in the region aren’t set up to handle a ‘gator.
Repeated attempts to get an explanation from York City Police were unsuccessful.
All that’s really known is that whatever happened to the ‘gator, whether it’s relaxing in a kiddie pool at a reptile rescue or whether it has been dispatched to the great swamp in the sky, is not clear.
Brubaker hopes the ‘gator wasn’t killed.
“I was told the cops came out and shot it,” he said. “I hope that’s not true. I didn’t want it to get killed.”
Columnist/reporter Mike Argento has been a Daily Record staffer since 1982. Reach him at 717-771-2046 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.