To the editor of THE EAGLE:
The Eagle recently ran an account of a pet alligator loose somewhere in or near New Lebanon, N.Y. The front-page story begins with an account of the wily three-foot reptile’s escape during cage cleaning. By the sixth paragraph, the Eagle writer describes the owner’s acquisition of the animal as a "hatchling" (query as to why this word requires quotation marks) and references the loss as "devastating" (sensible quotation marks, here).
The Eagle reporter usefully describes the alligator as: "distinguishable by its gray-and-white scaled back. It has a hole in its right back webbed-foot [query as to hyphen usage] and a clipped tail, a result of being bitten as a baby alligator."
As I read, my mind was eased. Should I be hiking in the woods of New Lebanon and come across an alligator, I would now be able to determine whether or not the animal I encountered was the specific peripatetic reptile in question. All I would need do is deliberately entice the three-foot carnivore close enough to inspect its right back foot, and voila! -- as unmistakably if there were a name tag etched "Kobe" around its scaly neck, I would know for sure that this gator was the missing rascal causing so much front-page fuss. I could recognize and identify this (theoretically maimed) alligator, as opposed to some other alligator wandering the woods in or near New Lebanon, New York.
Of course, my plan to lure the animal near enough to inspect its right back foot is weakened a bit, given the advice found in paragraph nine of the article: "...[T]he public is warned against approaching [the alligator]."
Thank you for a most diverting account! And I do hope that Mrs. Leavitt recovers her reptile.