ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — A ripped collar is all that’s left of Gandi the Maltese.
The Bell family found the remains of their 13-year-old dog, eaten by a wild animal, in their Oak Harbor neighborhood.
They say it will happen again if nothing is done.
The Bell family noticed their dog wasn’t on their back patio last week, so they went looking for him. Soon, Don Bell and his 14-year-old granddaughter found his ripped collar and the remains of his face in their neighbor’s backyard near the water.
"I said, 'Whew.' All I could do was take a deep breath because I pretty much knew what had happened at that time," Don Bell said.
Don's wife Keila is distraught.
"It's not just a dog. It's my baby,” she said. “It's like a child for me."
Keila says every evening, Gandi would hop out of his little bed and run to the front door and wait for her when he knew it was time for her to come home.
"I have lost a major, a major family member in my family, because that's all I have. My kids are grown. My grandkids are gone," she said.
Neighbors say alligator sightings have increased. The property management company says so have the calls for something to be done about them.
"We've had people on the Northshore that have actually had them on their back porch. You know, if it's a slab, gators are sitting by their back door getting out of the sun," said Robert Phillips, President of GNO Property Management.
We had John “Trapper John” Schmidt meet with Gandi's owner and take a look at the remains, and he believes that a coyote got the six-pound pup. He says an alligator would have grabbed the entire dog and pulled him in the water.
"Something caught your dog. Ate your dog, and left the head," Schmidt told Don Bell.
He says he has trapped coyotes in the area two miles away and that they have a range of 40 miles when hunting, but the Bells are still concerned about the alligators in the area.
They buried what is left of Gandi in the backyard, but are worried a child could be hurt. And they are upset that calls to state and local government agencies are not getting anything done about the nuisance animal dangers.
"I have left numerous messages with everybody. No one wants to call me back. No one contacted me or my husband. It's not just a dog. It's my baby. It's like a child for me," Keila said.
The property managers tell us that they call the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries when they get a report of a gator sighting, but that they will only come out when an alligator is six feet or longer.