Video: Florida man rescues puppy from alligator
Instinct, adrenaline and a wee bit of gumption saved an adorable puppy from the jaws of death.
Video circulating on social media shows Southwest Florida man Richard Wilbanks jumping into a pond, grabbing a small gator with his bare hands and prying his dog free.
Wilbanks, 74, told WINK News he was outside his Estero house when he heard his 3-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Gunner, crying.
Without removing the cigar from his mouth, Wilbanks jumped into action.
The footage was captured because the pet owner participates in a wildlife conservation program called Sharing the Landscape set up by the Florida Wildlife Federation and fStop Foundation, which put cameras on the hunter’s land.
The dramatic rescue went down late last month and was recently reviewed after the organizers checked the man’s memory card of the wildlife cam.
“The gentleman you see in the video is one of the homeowners that is participating in this project,” FWF spokeswoman Caitlin Maselli told the Miami Herald on Monday. “We are fortunate to have such a strong group of homeowners who are participating and who understand the value of the wildlife that surrounds them.”
Wilbanks told WINK he had to think quickly.
“It came out like a missile,” the hero said.
Both he and the puppy suffered a few cuts, he said, but are fine. The alligator was removed.
The internet was impressed. In the widely shared clip, social media users hailed the brave pet owner, who remarkably kept his cigar clenched in his teeth during the rescue.
“A true legend,” “gangster,” and “real man” were a few of the accolades.
“That’s got to be one of the most badas-s things I have seen in a long while,” wrote another.
FWF’s Maselli told the Miami Herald she hopes the video serves as a learning experience.
“It is critical that people who live at the interface of wild land take extra precautions,” she advised. “Dogs should leashed and both people and pets should avoid lingering at the edge of large retention ponds where alligators are known to occupy.”