When Andrew Epps’s service dog managed to get out of a dog park in Florida, little did anyone know the fate that would face him.
This sweet chocolate lab dog, who had been a faithful friend to Andrew, was found mauled to death by an alligator.
Witnesses reported seeing the man carrying the lifeless and bloody body of his dog over his shoulder.
Andrew, who suffered with mental health issues, was so distraught by what had happened, the very next day he took his own life.
It happened at Dog Leg Park in Palmetto, WFLA reports.
“It was just such a sad situation, he couldn’t deal with it,” one of Epp’s neighbors and family friends, Kayla Weston, told the station.
The dog Java had somehow got loose while outside a fence surrounding the dog park and was attacked by the alligator.
“Most people, if they knew they were that close to marsh and gators, they wouldn’t walk back there,” Sharil Dowling told the station. “I can’t imagine the anguish that guy was in. It was horrible”
Andrew, 36, was described as a “beautiful soul” who loved animals and spending time outdoors, according to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money in his memory.
“The night before he passed, Andrew’s family were begging local facilities to admit him,” sister-in-law Ashley Epp wrote on the fundraising page.
“They were turned away and told that, because he wasn’t vocalizing that he wanted to hurt himself.”
Another dog park user Tim Todd says he knows of three dogs who have been eaten by alligators in the last five years.
He has since complained to the county who have now put up signs warning people the dangers of what lies close by.
Failed to catch the alligator
“It was too late to do anything for that dog, but what could we do to help other people?” Tim told WFLA’s News Channel 8.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials said a gator trapper was called to the park but was unsuccessful in trapping the offending beast.
Find out more about this tragic story in the clip below.
This is such a tragic story and our hearts go out to the family and friends of Andrew Epp and Java. May you both rest in peace.
Please share to pay tribute to Andrew and his faithful four-legged friend Java.