Florida Man Rescues Puppy from Alligator’s Jaws

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Richard Wilbanks said instincts and adrenaline caused him to jump into the pond to save his spaniel

Would you jump in a pond to save your puppy from an alligator’s grasp? One Florida man did just that and it was all caught on camera.

Richard Wilbanks, 74, of Estero said instincts and adrenaline caused him to jump in his backyard pond to save his 3-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy, Gunner, after a small alligator grabbed it.

“We were just out walking by the pond,” Wilbanks told CNN, “and it came out of the water like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick.”

He told CNN that holding the alligator once he got it wasn’t the hard part. It was prying open its jaws.

The puppy only suffered a single puncture wound on its belly and is doing just fine, he said, but his hands got pretty torn up, and he had to get a tetanus shot.

He now walks Gunner on a leash and keeps a 10-foot distance from the pond.

The video was captured because of a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation and its campaign called Sharing the Landscape. Meredith Budd with the Florida Wildlife Federation told WINK they often see animals such as deer and bobcats on their cameras, but this encounter was definitely unusual. 

“We live on a shared landscape,” Budd told WINK News. “We don’t just want to tolerate wildlife, but, rather, we want to thrive with wildlife on a shared landscape.”

Wilbanks agreed, saying he knows his pond is the gator’s home and it was just following its instincts when it grabbed his puppy. He said he has no plans to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about it. 

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