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Ex-veterinarian back home without gator

| Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

A retired Uniontown veterinarian who was missing with his pet alligator since last week returned home over the weekend, his wife said Sunday.

James Ronald Davidson, 67, left his South Union home with Alli, a 3- to 4-foot-long brown and yellow alligator, without informing his family of his plans, police said.

Family members believed he intended to release Alli, whom he'd bought at a reptile show in Waynesburg a few years ago, back to the wild.

“That's what he did,” Kathleen Davidson, 64, said.

“He came home about 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. He's OK,” she said.

He found a sandy stretch near a stream leading to a pond, where he released Alli, she said.

“He said Alli turned around and looked at him, like ‘What are you doing?' It took a little while, then he disappeared under the water,” she said.

“Alli is where he is supposed to be,” she said.

Her husband is diabetic. He uses a cane because half of one foot has been removed and three toes have been removed from the other foot, she said. Her husband left without his walker or his medications, she said.

“The first thing he did (when he came home) was take his insulin,” she said.

James Davidson received some bad news from his doctor Monday, his wife said. She declined to provide specifics.

When he got home, he said he was going on a trip Tuesday.

But her husband left a day earlier, while she was visiting her daughter in Washington, Kathleen Davidson said.

Police stopped Davidson in Gainesville, Fla., on Wednesday morning. They did not detain him because he was not reported missing until later that day.

Kathleen Davidson said she waited until Wednesday to give her husband time to contact her. She said he did not have his cellphone with him.

The couple frequently visited the Everglades, and she originally thought that was where he was headed.

“But the Everglades are closed,” she said. The government shutdown has resulted in most of the country's national parks remaining closed.

She said her husband felt sad about having to turn Alli loose.

“He would say, ‘I'm going to miss him,' ” she said.

Alli had an entire bathroom for his home, with three heaters providing warmth.

Her husband's and her own health issues were making caring for the alligator — including changing his water — more difficult, Kathleen Davidson said.

She said her husband owned his own veterinary practice in Uniontown for 35 years. He has rehabilitated numerous injured wild animals over the years.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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