'He's like a dog': Owner of 7-foot alligator found in home vows to get his pet back

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Animal control officers removed a 7-foot alligator from a Kansas City home Wednesday during an eviction, and the gator's owner says he'll fight to get him back.

Sean Casey said when officials showed up Wednesday morning to evict him, he had just minutes to get out of the home near 55th and Phelps, so he had to leave everything behind, including his pet alligator, "Catfish," three snakes and a rabbit named "Dinner."

Casey said the house belonged to his grandmother who is currently in a nursing home. The owner of the home, a trustee, evicted him.

"I don't have anything good to say about the man, so I probably shouldn't say anything at all, but he's doing my family wrong," Casey told WDAF.

Casey said the creature was only 15 to 18 inches long when he first got him four years ago.

But now, Catfish is the largest alligator Kansas City animal control officers have ever had to deal with. They had to call in an animal rescue group to help them remove Catfish since they aren't equipped to deal with a more than 200-pound alligator.

"This thing was massive in size, and it took over four of us to handle this," said James Donovan with KC Animal Control.

This exciting rescue was painful for the gator's owner.

“He had his own way of saying, 'Hi,' to people,” Casey said. "They’re not big ferocious animals like people think. They have personalities."

Casey said the animal’s diet consisted of chicken nuggets, steak, deer and fish. He added that Catfish acts like a dog.

"He was like a dog. I don't think he knew he was an alligator," he said. "I tell people all the time 'I've got an alligator who can't swim.' He is scared of the dark and scared of thunderstorms."

And like a dog, Catfish roamed around the house.

"I built him a ramp to get back in his tank because he is a big lizard. He was going to come out and play. He liked to come out and play," Casey said. "Oddly enough, he liked to come sit on my lap."

But alligators are prohibited in Kansas City. Catfish is now in the care of Dana Savorelli at Monkey Island, an exotic animal rescue group in Greenwood. Savorelli said well-meaning people buy alligators when they're small and don't realize how big they are going to get. He said his sanctuary is full after he rescued two other large gators a few months ago.

"Problem is, you can't put these guys together. You can't really throw them all in together. They will be fighting like dinosaurs," he said.

Thankfully, he found space for Catfish, who appeared to be doing well.

But Casey said he plans to find a way to get his beloved pet back.

“I don’t know what the procedure will be to get him back, but I’m going to fight to get him back,” he told WDAF.

Animal control said that's not going to happen.

As for Casey's other pets, they're now being cared for at KC Pet Project.