36-year-old Andrew Epp decided to take his own life after an alligator attacked his service dog, Java.
Epp, who suffered from mental health problems, was walking his service dog at the Dog Leg Park in Palmetto when the pooch got loose from his lead.
Java, a chocolate Labrador, approached a marshy area when a vicious reptile suddenly attacked him.
Epp was then seen carrying an unconscious Java over his shoulder.
A passerby, Sharil Dowling, said to WFLA: “Most people, if they knew they were that close to marsh and gators, they wouldn’t walk back there. I can’t imagine the anguish that guy was in. It was horrible.”
But less than 24 hours later, Epp was found lifeless after he took his own life. The 36-year-old is being remembered on a GoFundMe page as a “gentle, beautiful soul” who “loved the outdoors, fishing, camping, horticulture and animals.”
The GoFundMe page said that on the day the dog was killed, Andrew’s family begged “local facilities to admit him” for treatment.
Unfortunately, they were turned away as “he wasn’t vocalizing that he wanted to hurt himself.”
Family friend and neighbor Kayla Weston told WFLA: “It was just such a sad situation, he couldn’t deal with it.”
Tim Todd, a visitor to the park, said he knows of at least three dogs attacked by alligators in the past few years. After the recent case, he reached out to the county and demanded that warning signs be placed around the area to warn pet owners of the reptiles.
“It was too late to do anything for that dog, but what could we do to help other people?”
This story also points out that mental health problems shouldn’t be ignored especially when horrific events just occurred.
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