PORT ST. LUCIE (CBSMiami) – Quick actions saved the life of a Port St. Lucie man who was attacked by a large alligator while he was out walking his dog.

Mark Johnson and his dog Rex were behind his home when the gator struck.

“I looked and the gator is bee-lining (toward me),” recalled Johnson.

Johnson said he was near the bank of a canal and yelled at his dog to run.

“This gator was coming in fast. He was aggressive,” he said.

Johnson said his foot slipped in the mud which gave the gator a chance to lunge and attack.

“He starts clamping down pretty tight (on my leg) and he started to pull and the next thing I do is, instantly, I poke, I do the eye poke,” said.

The more than eight-foot gator nearly dragged the 61-year-old into the water, spinning as it maintained a tight hold on Johnson’s foot.

Johnson said his quick action of poking the gator’s eye likely saved his life.

“I had to do something, that’s why I say you have seconds to react,” he said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife contracted a nuisance alligator trapper which removed the gator and transferred it to an alligator farm.

Johnson, who required 60 stitches, is thankful he still has his leg.

“Luckily, he opened up. He could have easily started tearing flesh and after the flesh, you’re talking bone and twisting and that’s a leg removal.”

Johnson said Rex was not hurt in the attack.

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