Collegeville Police Officer Matt Cubbler could not believe his ears when the emergency dispatcher asked him to respond to an animal complaint.

"The resident would like the alligator removed from their property," the dispatcher said.

"Did she just say alligator?" Cubbler recalled thinking.

The scaly creature was found about 8:45 a.m. Thursday in the 200 block of Freeland Drive. The son of the woman who called into police was on his way to work when his headlights caught the gator walking across the road, Cubbler said.

"He comes running into her asking for his lacrosse stick and a blanket," said Cubbler.

By the time Cubbler arrived on scene, the alligator had been snagged in the lacrosse stick and placed in a small dog crate, he said.

"There wasn't, like, this standoff between me and an alligator and I had to wrestle it into a cage," he said.

The alligator, which was about 18 inches to two feet in length, was turned over to animal control who in turn contacted a reptile specialist, Cubbler said.

Cubbler thinks the gator was released into the nearby Perkiomen Creek, which is illegal.

The former owner likely "realized they are more work than a gerbil," he said.

"This little guy was found wandering the streets of Collegeville today. Just so we all know the laws - it is NOT illegal to own an alligator or crocodile in PA, but it IS illegal to release one into the wild or let it wander aimlessly in our neighborhoods!" police posted on their Facebook page.

The capture caused quite a stir in the normally quiet borough.

"I asked them to bring it back, but they wouldn't," said Jeff Thompson, the disappointed borough manager.

A photo of the creature was quickly emailed to the daughter of a township employee who works at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The reptile was determined to be an American alligator, Cubbler said.

Cubbler didn't know if the creature was a male or female.

"I didn't check underneath, but I'm guessing it's a he just by shear meanness," said the 24-year veteran. "It just looked tougher."

Cubbler admits he is not a reptile fan and doesn't have much experience with alligators.

"This is the first alligator ever in 24 years of police work," he said. "Maybe in the history of Collegeville."