Alligator spotted in Glendale pond by homeowner, family

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- One Valley woman says in addition to the ducks and turtles she's used to seeing in a Glendale park, she's also spotted an alligator.

Joan Picha goes to the pond across the street from Dos Lagos Park near 63rd Avenue and Utopia Road about once a week to feed the ducks.

On Friday, she took her son, daughter-in-law and grandkids, and they all caught the glimpse of the reptile.

"The first thing we say was the head and then we saw the whole body, Picha said. "It was about 4 feet long, and we just gasped."

Her son, Bill Gaynor, who lives in California, confirmed the sighting.

Seconds after it popped up for a breath, Picha says the alligator disappeared.

"We were just stunned," she said. "We tried to take a picture of it but it was just too quick. It went back under the water."

She believes the alligator was dropped off by someone who owned it as a pet, which is illegal.

Russ Johnson with the Phoenix Herpetological Society says that's happened before and went to the pond Monday.

"I didn't see any evidence of an alligator but that doesn't mean it's not there because it's so cold now, that alligator could be underneath the water and holding its breath because it's too cold to come out on the bank today," Johnson said.

Alligators can hold their breath for several hours.

Picha says she knows what she saw, and just hopes the alligator is caught soon.

"I'm not just worried for the ducks, I'm worried for the people," she said.

Johnson will head back out to the pond in a few days when the weather warms back up to see what he can find.

He also mentions that if anyone has an alligator, they can call the Phoenix Herpetological Society at 480-513-4377 and avoid a prosecution.