December 02, 2015 07:03 PM

A 25 lb. pit bull terrier mix is dead after being allowed to walk off-leash at a Key Biscayne, Florida, golf course. 

On Saturday, the owner was walking with her dog by the fifth hole of the Crandon Park Golf Course, reports The Miami Herald, when the dog spotted several birds and suddenly ran after them. Without a leash, the owner was unable to stop her pet as he lunged after ducks and geese in one of the golf course’s ponds. 

Unfortunately, also lurking in the pond was a five to seven foot long crocodile. When the reptile spotted the swimming dog, it attacked and killed the pet, clamping its jaws around the dog’s body. 

“It was a saltwater crocodile that normally feeds on raccoons and possums that come up to the water for a drink,” Lorenzo Veloz, spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Sun Sentinel. “This dog ran up to the water and the crocodile dragged him in just like regular prey.”

“It didn’t need to happen if the person had had their dog leashed,” he added.

Miami-Dade County Park officials say there are signs around the golf course warning dog owners about the presence of crocodiles. As Florida’s once-dwindling crocodile population begins to rise, wet and grassy local golf courses have become the go-to hangout spot for the large reptiles, whose natural habitats are disappering. 

“Most of these ponds have a resident croc,” University of Florida biologist Frank Mazzotti told The Herald. “They’re fresh water and free from wind and wave action. The crocs like to hang out. It’s like a living room.” 

Mazzotti said attacks like Saturday’s should serve as a grave reminder that Florida dog owners need to be careful with their pets around open water.

There are no plans to relocate or kill the crocodile involved in the dog’s death.

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