Florida retiree wrestles puppy from jaws of alligator

Richard Wilbanks, 74, of Estero bumped into his yard pond, wrestled the gator above floor, and pried its jaws open to free Gunner, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Gunner was mostly unharmed.

“We were just out walking by the pond,” Wilbanks informed 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 mentioned adrenaline or intuition kicked in, and “I just automatically jumped into the water.”

Holding the alligator wasn’t so robust, however prying open the jaws was “extremely hard,” he mentioned.

Wilbanks mentioned his fingers have been “chewed up,” and he went to a physician for a tetanus shot.

Gunner had one puncture wound in his stomach and did high-quality after a visit to the veterinarian’s workplace.

The pair out walking before the gator lunged

The rescue south of Fort Myers was caught on digital camera as a result of of a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation.

“We live on a shared landscape,” Meredith Budd of the wildlife federation informed affiliate WINK. “We don’t just want to tolerate wildlife, but, rather, we want to thrive with wildlife on a shared landscape.”

Wilbanks agrees with that mission and he would not need the alligator eliminated from the pond or destroyed.

“They’re part of nature and part of our lives,” he mentioned.

He nonetheless takes Gunner strolling, however he retains the puppy on a leash — and 10 toes from the pond’s edge. “Our pets, they’re just like family to us,” he mentioned.

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