Club Pet Groomer Rescues Alligator

Puff, the magic escape artist alligator, is back home in Milford Township after an adventure on Thursday.

“He’s my buddy,” said James Kozub, who has owned the American alligator for 20 years and has lived with him in Milford Township for the past eight years. “He’s never been a problem.”

Kozub admits Puff was “a mad gator” on Thursday after he broke loose from a tether he had been left on in the front yard of their home in the 2000 block of East Commerce. The four-foot alligator then took a stroll at ended up at a yard in the 1900 block of East Commerce.

On his way, he was spotted by Dawn Stuebben, who had just left work at the nearby Club Pet, a dog boarding facility where she is a groomer.

The Plymouth resident was on her way home and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

“It was scary,” she said. “It looked like a big monitor lizard walking across a front yard. I said, ‘What the hell is that? Is that real?'”

Stuebben pulled into the parking lot of St. Mary’s Church and said people in the driveway of the home looked unfazed. She then realized they hadn’t yet seen what she now recognized as an alligator.

Moments later, they were calling the police, who responded at 4:35 p.m. July 18.

Stuebben said she and a man at the neighbor’s home worked together to capture the animal. She tied together three dog leashes while he got a pole and makeshift hook. Stuebben, hands shaking, then lassoed the alligator under his jaw.

“He was upset and hissing, but not trying to come at us,” she said. “There was a drainage ditch that goes under the road and he was heading that way. We knew we’d never get him out if he got that far.”

Puff still had a small harness around the front of his body, with a broken wire attached.

James Kozub Alligator

According to the police report, the neighbor was aware that Kozub owned a pet alligator. Police were able to reach Kozub, who was at a Madison Heights water park with his family, and he arrived about an hour later, taping Puff’s mouth shut and carrying him home. He put him in his above ground swimming pool to cool off.

Kozub said he was in high school when he bought Puff from House of Pets in Dearborn Heights 20 years ago. He has since lived in Westland, Redford, and for the past 8 years, in Milford Township. He said he has legally owned his pet in every place he has been, and even informed township officials of Puff when he moved here.

Puff has a cage in Kozub’s home. Young children also live at the home, as well as Kozub’s 11-month-old Great Dane/Mastiff mix Zeus.

Kozub is also a beekeeper and has had a variety of interesting pets over the years, including chickens, pigs, and birds, but Puff has outlived them all.

While he can’t cuddle Puff, he enjoys him, calling the alligator “hardy, and fun to watch,” as well as listen to with the noises he makes. He keeps Puff’s size in check by controlling the temperatures to which he is exposed.

What does an alligator eat? Kozub says, “everything.”

“It’s hard for people to understand,” he said. “People judging me don’t know about alligators. They make good pets.”

Kozub emphasized it is not against state law or DNR regulations to own an alligator and in the police report, an animal control officer confirmed that to police.

Kozub was issued a citation for failing to maintain a reasonable control/leash law in Milford Township.

*Article originally appeared on


One Response to “Club Pet Groomer Rescues Alligator”
  1. kizi says:

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