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Blind 750-pound alligator seized from New York home, setting up showdown as owner vows to "fight them to get him back"

800-pound alligator seized from owner in New York, neighbors start petition to help get him back
800-pound alligator seized from owner in New York, neighbors start petition to help get him back 01:22

A 750-pound, 11-foot-long alligator named Albert was seized from a New York home this week, setting the stage for a confrontation between the state's Department of Environmental Conservation and the animal's self-proclaimed owner. 

The alligator lived in an in-ground pool in the backyard of owner Tony Cavallaro's Hamburg, New York home, and has multiple health problems, including blindness in both eyes and spinal complications, officials said. Cavallaro allegedly allowed members of the public "to get into the water to pet the unsecured alligator," according to the department. 

Albert was seized on Wednesday in "the interest of public safety and the health, safety, and protection of the alligator," the department said. He has been placed with a specialized caretaker who can care for him while the damage was assessed. 

Cavallaro refuted claims that he had not properly cared for the animal, writing in an online petition calling for Albert's return that he treated the alligator better "than most people take care of their kids." He also criticized the department for the way the seizure was managed, writing that 20 agents came to his home in full body armor and carrying weapons. 

"It was like I was a gun dealing drug dealing criminal the way they acted. The scene that they made on my street is very disturbing and totally wrong," he wrote. 

Officials said that Cavallaro had a license to own the alligator that expired in 2021. Cavallaro said that two years ago, the rules around owning an alligator had changed, and he attempted to renew his license in 2021 but was unable to contact the necessary authorities. 

"I've had him 34 years and abided by all of them and renewed my permit annually as required," he wrote.

Cavallaro said that he plans to fight to regain custody of Albert. 

"I ask it all of my friends and people who love Albert will support me when this date comes available and if you can join me at the Hamburg town court to help me fight them to get him back," he wrote. 

A court date has not yet been announced. 

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