When an alligator snatched his puppy Gunner and dragged it into a pond, an adrenaline-charged Richard Wilbanks sprang into action. He raced into the water, grabbed the alligator by the jaws and began prying them open.
A wildlife surveillance camera caught the entire incident, during which Wilbanks at one point nearly went totally underwater before wading to shore and opening the jaws wide enough to free Gunner.
“He just came out [of the water] like a missile,” Wilbanks of Estero told WINK News of Fort Myers, Fla., adding that “They’re like children to us, so there was no second thought whatsoever.”
WINK News shared the video and the story but refrained from including audio of the puppy’s cries “because they’re too upsetting.”
“He had one little puncture wound, and…my hands were just chewed up,” Wilbanks told WINK News. “Fortunately, I was in a position that I was able to save Gunner’s life.”
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The video was captured by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation, which are partnering on a campaign called “Sharing the Landscape.”
From WINK News:
“We live on a shared landscape,” [FWF’s Meredith] Budd said. “We don’t just want to tolerate wildlife, but, rather, we want to thrive with wildlife on a shared landscape.”
The goal is to help people appreciate and understand the wildlife they live near and help reduce the conflicts that can sometimes happen between people and nature….
[The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission] said serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida, but hopes the video of Wilbanks’ encounter leads to a better relationship between people and wildlife.
The Commission said in a statement, “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.”
We’re happy to report that the owner and puppy are both doing fine.
Photo courtesy of the Florida Wildlife Federation.
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