Yeah, that was tragic and weird — never heard of a gator bypassing dogs to grab a human! Dogs are like magnets for gators but it is almost unheard of for a gator to grab a human on land. Usually they attack drunk or stupid people swimming where they have no business being.
A few years ago, Ben and I were walking on the nature boardwalk around Lake Dora with our Pekingese. The boardwalk is well above the water so no risk of a gator climbing up, but one saw our dog and followed beside us the half mile walk. I guess he was hoping our Peke would jump or fall in! That boardwalk has places where you can exit onto the land — a very wooded, hammocky area that is often marshy when there’s been a lot of rain like now. I won’t walk there and certainly not with my dog.
People also don’t realize how damn fast a gator is on land. They can run 30 mph on land in short bursts and it only takes one burst to catch a dog or a human. People walking on the shoreline see a gator in the shallow water and lean in closer to get a better look, fascinated with the reptile and not realizing he can rush forward much faster than they can run away, if fear doesn’t glue them in place.
Gators deserve healthy respect.