Snapzilla Terrorizes Falls Township Park

Legend has it the fierce beast ate a woman's toe -- and a dog

Beware! A giant snapping turtle's lurking in the waters at Falls Township Community Park. "Snapzilla" supposedly made a tasty meal out of a small dog and someone told someone who told someone that the two-foot long turtle also bit off a woman's toe.

"I've talked to our police department, our ambulance squad and our park security staff and we have nothing to substantiate the claim at this time," says Township Manager Peter Gray.

It's true that there are snapping turtles in the lake. And it's true they can be aggressive. But no one seems to be able to nail down an actual witness to the dog-eating episode. Even so, some regular park goers say it could happen.

"I don't doubt it. I've seen big turtles out there…I don't doubt anything," says Jogger Bob Erickson. He's in the park a few times a week and says he's even thrown one or two red-bellied or painter turtles back into the water.

Some folks think park employees are the reason the legend of Snapzilla keeps getting bigger, and better.

The Jersey Devil Legend

"The first time I heard the story it was from park security while I had my pup leashed and in the shallow parts of the lake. He said that they had an incident where a woman's dog was bit by a turtle. A few weeks later while at the park and having the pup wade in the water, I heard the story again and this time the woman's dog lost a leg. Most recently I was there two weeks ago and again heard from park security that a woman's dog was attacked and finally eaten by the turtle," said Janean Saul who emailed us to suggest that park workers get some training for how to talk to patrons.

A blog on the Courier Times Web site also attributes information to a park employee. So until someone gives us a bit of see/touch/feel evidence or the township is confident enough to say Snapzilla's just a "suburban legend" people who go to the park are being asked to keep their dogs on a leash and to stay out of the water. And that warning gives Pat Bunting, who brought her grandkids out to play, a good chuckle.

"I don't think I would send any dogs in the lake right now, or grandchildren, unless they really get on my nerves!"

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