CORAL SPRINGS — Luann and Jorge Alonso have lived in their house on the fringe of the Everglades for 18 years. They've seen alligators -- but they never imagined that a 9-footer would come to the front door.
Luann Alonso awoke with a fright when a clacking "det, det, det" noise began at 5 a.m. Thursday. She and her husband saw its tail slapping the accordion-style hurricane shutters.
"His tail went across the front window. So when he was moving, the accordion was banging back and forth," said Jorge Alonso, 57. "I guess he was trapped in there, trying to get out."
When Luann Alonso, 55, first heard the clacking, she figured it was a raccoon. "We opened the blinds, and right against our living room windows, there was an alligator lying there," she said.
The situation was "ridiculous" and "very scary," she said.
She called Coral Springs police and started warning neighbors in the 12400 block of Southwest First Street. The neighborhood, which borders a canal, is less than two miles from the Sawgrass Expressway.
"My neighbors have small children and little dogs," she said. "Of course, I called my neighbors even though it was 5:30 in the morning."
The Alonsos normally take their 12-year-old miniature pinscher Gucci out for a walk early in the morning, because "he's older," Luann Alonso said.
"But thank God we didn't," she said. "Sometimes we're up at 3 or 4 in the morning taking the dog out."
Gators do feed at sunrise and sunset, but dogs are rarely on the menu, said Officer Jorge Pino, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"They typically feed in and around water," Pino said. "If anybody walks their dog without a leash near a body of water around dawn or dusk then there's a stronger likelihood that their pet may suffer the consequences."
Kevin Garvey, of Nuisance Wildlife Control in Pompano Beach, has been trapping gators and other creatures since 1995.
The gator at the Alonsos' front door had managed to not topple nearby statuettes of St. Mary and St. Joseph. Garvey moved the statuettes before he roped the alligator.
"I tried to keep him [away] so nothing gets damaged, you know," he said.
Garvey had the reptile tied up in 15 minutes and removed by 6:30 a.m.
"It's just another day at the office for me," he said. "Once I got him out in the open and wore him out a little bit, I could get on him, get him under control, get him taped up, get him in the truck and off we go."
Seeing alligators on South Florida streets is common, Pino said.
"We have over a million alligators in the state of Florida and we have waterways that connect everywhere, so it's not unusual to see an alligator in your neighborhood," he said.
Garvey said the alligator would be taken to a wildlife sanctuary.