Andrew Epp, Florida man commits suicide a day after his service dog lab is killed by an alligator at Dog Leg Park in Palmetto. Struggling with mental health issues.
Andrew Epp, 36, who had struggled with mental health issues, took his own life last Saturday, one day after his chocolate Lab, Java, died after being attacked by an alligator at Dog Leg Park in Palmetto, WFLA reported.
‘It was just such a sad situation, he couldn’t deal with it,’ one of Epp’s neighbors and family friends, Kayla Weston, told the media outlet.
Witnesses said the deadly attack took place shortly before dusk on May 17 after the dog somehow got loose while outside a fence. Moments later, the lifeless Lab was slumped over a man’s shoulders while covered in blood, one witness said.
‘Most people, if they knew they were that close to marsh and gators, they wouldn’t walk back there,‘ Sharil Dowling told via WFLA. ‘I can’t imagine the anguish that guy was in.’
The dog park is near wetlands that are obscured by a line of trees, potentially putting visitors and animals alike at risk of attacks by snakes or alligators.
Andrew Epp suicide: Family pleaded to have him committed.
One man who has visited the dog park for the last five years said he knew of at least three dogs that have been eaten by alligators. He demanded that warning signs be installed before they went up earlier this week.
‘It was too late to do anything for that dog, but what could we do to help other people?’ Tim Todd told via WFLA.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials said a nuisance gator trapper responded to the dog park after the attack, but the gator had not yet been captured.
Epp was remembered as a ‘beautiful soul’ who loved animals and spending time outdoors. Relatives ‘were begging’ local mental health facilities to admit him after Java’s death, but were told he wouldn’t get in to see a doctor until August, since he wasn’t threatening to harm himself, according to an online fundraiser set up in his memory.
‘The thing is, often those considering suicide don’t vocalize their plans,’ Epp’s sister-in-law, Ashley Epps, wrote. ‘And they can be turned away in the moments that help is most needed.’
Of note, the fundraiser page does not mention how long Epp had owned his beloved dog or the manner of how he took his own life.