Richard Wilbanks is the ultimate pet owner — he fought an alligator to save his Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy, Gunner.
One morning in late October, Wilbanks took his puppy Gunner for a walk by the pond behind their house in Estero, Florida.
Suddenly, a 4-foot gator struck the puppy and dragged it underwater. Wilbanks jumped into the pond, wrestled the gator, pried its jaws open, and saved his puppy. His own hand was subsequently bitten.
“It was like a missile,” Wilbanks said. “We were only about 3 feet away from it, but it struck like a snake. It had Gunner in a vise grip and I just rushed in.”
Fortunately, neither dog nor master was seriously injured, and they returned home. After treating Wilbanks’ hand with first aid, Gunner was taken to an animal hospital where he was treated. He escaped with only a puncture wound and some water in his lungs. He was released from the hospital a few days later and is now back to his happy, energetic puppy-self, running to greet guests at the front door. He also has a new leash for his walks.
Wilbanks’ heroic rescue was caught on film because the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fstop Foundation had put up cameras to track wildlife in the area.