Florida man rescues his puppy from an alligator

A Florida man said it was adrenaline that sent him desperately diving into a pond to save his beloved dog from the mighty jaws of an alligator. 

Richard Wilbanks, 74, was walking his three-month-old Cavalier King Cocker Spaniel, ‘Gunner,’ near their Esteros home last month when the daring save occurred.

‘[The alligator] just came out from under the water like a missile, grabbed Gunner and went right back in the water with him,’ Richard told Good Morning America.

Richard Wilbanks (left), pictured with his wife Louis Wilbanks, said he was walking his dog last month when an alligator snatched the dog and pulled him into the water

 ‘It all happened so fast. It was just reaction and adrenaline.’

The heart-pounding footage was shared so social media this week, where one clip shared to Twitter collected more than 11.4 million views in 24 hours.

In the video, Gunner can be heard yelping and barking as the Richard grunts and struggles with getting the alligator’s jaws off the dog.

Richard Wilnbanks said that Gunner (pictured), a three-month-old Cavalier King Cocker Spaniel, suffered a single puncture wound and spent two nights at the veterinarian.

A brutal fight between the alligator and the Wilbanks – who has a cigar in his mouth – ensues, with the man finally freeing the dog.

Getting clear out of danger, Gunner runs out of the yard. Wilbanks and the alligator continue scrapping in the water.

Eventually, Wilbanks throws the alligator over a fence. He manages to keep his cigar firmly in place throughout the entire scuffle.

The Wilbanks told Good Morning America that Gunner suffered a single puncture wound and spent two nights at the veterinarian.

Pictured: three-month-old Gunner taking a nap after visiting the veterinarian in October over his incident with the alligator.

The Wilbanks said that Gunner (left) is now on a leash at all times while walking near their home in Esteros, Florida

They added that the wild incident prompted some new rules for the tiny pooch.

‘He’s now on a leash all the time,’ Richard’s wife, Louise Wilbanks, told Good Morning America.

Richard’s hands suffered injuries from the alligator’s mouth, so he underwent treatment and received tetanus shots. His wounds have now healed.

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The footage was first captured by cameras set up by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation as part of a ‘Sharing the Landscape’ campaign, which hopes to promote how humans and animals can coexist.

‘There’s expansive areas of wild habitat surrounding these residential communities,’ Meredith Budd, of the Florida Wildlife Federation, told Good Morning America.

The Florida Wildlife Commission said from 1948 to 2019, 413 unprovoked bite incidents have occurred in Florida. Pictured: Gunner licking Richard Wilbanks during an interview with Good Morning America.

The footage of Richard Wilbanks and Gunner (right and left) was captured by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation as part of a ‘Sharing the Landscape’ campaign

‘It’s really critical that people who live at the interface of residential community and wildland take those extra precautions.’

Florida officials have reiterated that residents living near water should be careful.

‘We encourage everyone to take precautionary measures, particularly those who live or recreate near the water. Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators,’ the Florida Wildlife Commission told WINK News.

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Officials added that the despite the 1.25 million alligators across Florida, unprovoked bites are fairly rare and the chance of getting serious injuries are small as well.

‘Over the last 10 years, Florida has averaged 7 unprovoked bites per year that are serious enough to require professional medical treatment,’ the agency wrote.

‘The frequency of these serious bites is variable but there has not been a significant trend in the past 10 years. The likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator incident in Florida is roughly only one in 3.1 million.

‘From 1948 to 2019, 413 unprovoked bite incidents have occurred in Florida. Twenty-five of these bites resulted in human fatalities.’

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