Malibu the dog, eaten by a gator yesterday in Royal Palm Beach, Fla. (family photo)

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. – An alligator devoured a family dog in this Palm Beach County town yesterday, while across the state, a woman was cited for hunting without a permit for shooting a gator attacking her own pet canine.

The dog that was killed was a Yorkie-Maltese mix named Malibu, owned by Michael and Yvette Rochefort. Malibu scurried out the back door of the couple’s interior design shop, only to be snatched by the jaws of a 6-foot reptile that had sneaked out of a retention pond.

“I heard a bark, and then I saw her being pulled into the water,” Rochefort told the Palm Beach Post. “The gator just came up and grabbed her. It went across to the other side of the lake with the dog in its mouth.”

Trappers caught the alligator believed to have eaten Malibu, and planned to catch two others due to their proximity to a shopping center.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident on the western coast of the Sunshine State, a woman used a handgun to fend off a gator that was attacking her own dog, and was issued a warning citation for hunting without a permit.

Candy Frey of Bradenton, Fla., shows the dog door where she was able to push a 3-foot gator out after it scuffled with her dogs (courtesy Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

Candy Frey says a 3-foot gator confronted her golden retriever at her East Manatee, Fla., home.

She and he daughter were able to push the creature through the dog door of her patio, but she also got her gun and opened fire.

“I was running on so much adrenaline,” Frey, 48, a former U.S. Marine aviation technician, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “I just freaked out and shot him – boom, boom, boom, boom.”

She had noticed her dog was bleeding from the head when she first saw the animals scuffling.

“I have to take this guy out,” Frey recalled thinking. “You can’t wait to see how long it’s going to sit there.”

Frey told the paper the gunshot wounds appeared to self-heal, and a wildlife officer who came to her home put the gator back in the lake.

The latest incidents come amid a rash of fatal attacks in Florida, where three women were mauled and killed by alligators in the past week.

Experts say much of the blame for the attacks can be attributed to ongoing development of the peninsula.

“You keep moving into territories, gators are going to have no place to go,” Glenn Wilsey, an Everglades tour guide, told Fox News host Neil Cavuto. “The drought is another big problem. As the waters drop, gators are going to go searching for water. They’ve been known to travel up to 25 [to] 30 miles to find water. That could be the new backyard that people are moving into.”

Wilsey said gators generally will not come up to humans, but lose their natural fear of people if the animals are fed by them.

“Food is the No. 1 no-no. You feed a gator, he becomes really relaxed, comes close, looks at hands, where the food comes from. And there’s that saying, ‘The gator will bite the hand that feeds them.'”

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