An elderly man and woman were hospitalized and their dog seriously injured in Australia after a predatory lizard attacked them Thursday in what rescuers called a "horrific and freak ordeal," local media reported.
The 72-year-old man underwent surgery and suffered significant blood loss due to his injuries, ABC News in Australia reported. His injuries had the potential to be life threatening, Shane Tucker, a supervisor for Queensland Ambulance, told the Guardian.
The outlets reported the women suffered a bite to the leg, too.
Rescuers told reporters that the attack unfolded in Flametree, Queensland, when the couple's long-haired Jack Russell mix, Lily, chased after a goanna, a carnivorous reptile found throughout Australia, ABC News reported.
Tucker told ABC News that the goanna attacked as the couple tried saving the pet.
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"I believe they are quite an aggressive animal. Any wild animal that is cornered is going to protect itself," he told the broadcaster. "Definitely out of the ordinary. Sounds like he's quite lucky, however, to have sustained the injuries that he has and still be in a stable condition."
Lily was originally believed to have been killed in the attack, but when the woman found out she survived, she called it "the best news I've heard all day," per the Guardian.
Dave Ryan, a reptile expert at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Queensland, told ABC News that the lizards can grow up to 6.5-feet long and are becoming more common in suburban areas in the country.
"Unfortunately these lizards basically eat anything that's made out of meat, they're not fussy at all – so rodents, birds, they'll even eat other lizards, other reptiles, so something the size of a small dog or a cat is right up there on the menu for these guys," he said.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Australia: Goanna lizard attacks, injures couple and their dog