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Alligator Lived In L.A. Backyard For Almost 40 Years Eating Chicken And Hot Dogs

"Jaxson" was a family pet, but Los Angeles Animal Services said she could still be dangerous. The gator was moved with the help of the L.A. Zoo on Wednesday.

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Los Angeles Animal Services and the L.A. Zoo removed an 8-foot alligator from a suburban L.A. backyard on Wednesday.

Alligator in #VanNuys. Area residents who lost small pets in last 40 years call @lacitypets

Julie Sone@ABC7JulieSoneFollow

Alligator in #VanNuys. Area residents who lost small pets in last 40 years call @lacitypets

4:30 PM - 14 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

The alligator, a 37-year-old female named Jaxson, had lived in the Van Nuys backyard for 36 years.

ABC 7 / Via abc7.com

Family of her owner said the gator had become a beloved pet.

But owning wildlife without a permit is illegal, and officials with Los Angeles Animal Services told ABC 7 that large reptiles can be dangerous. Authorities removed Jaxson with help from the Los Angeles Zoo on Wednesday after receiving a tip and obtaining a search warrant to enter the property.

Jaxson's owner disputed that the alligator was a danger.

ABC 7 / Via abc7.com

When officials entered the backyard, they found two dead cats near the alligator, the Associated Press reported. Because of the dead cats, authorities are asking neighbors to report any lost small pets over the years.

The alligator owner said she fed stray cats, but she never fed cats to her reptile. In fact, Jaxson got along with the cats and had only ever eaten chicken and hot dogs.

She wouldn't even hurt rats, her owner said.

Jaxson's owner says pet alligator was so docile she'd let "rats eat hot dogs out of her mouth" http://t.co/GH256Hw0iU

NBC Los Angeles@NBCLAFollow

Jaxson's owner says pet alligator was so docile she'd let "rats eat hot dogs out of her mouth"

http://t.co/GH256Hw0iU

7:14 PM - 14 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

Hear more from Jaxson's owner here.

Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at claudia.koerner@buzzfeed.com.

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