A retired man from Florida was caught on video saving a dog from getting eaten by a baby alligator, all while never dropping his cigar. The owner and the dog are doing fine, Insider reported, but are doing their best to stay away from the water.
Richard Wilbanks took his 3-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Gunner out to the pond in his backyard in Estero, Florida. Surveillance footage from a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation. The footage starts with Wilbanks in the water, prying his dog from the mouth of the alligator.
Meredith Budd, the Florida Wildlife Federation regional policy director, told Insider that the incident took place at the end of October but the footage was just found. CNN spoke to Wilbanks about the incident, saying, “We were just out walking by the pond and it came out of the water like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick. I just automatically jumped into the water.”
Richard also spoke with a local news station, WINK News, and said, “They’re like children to us, so there was no second thought whatsoever.”
After the incident, Gunner was taken to the vet to treat the puncture wounds from the alligator’s teeth and Wilbanks got a tetanus shot because his hands got “chewed up” from trying to open the alligator’s mouth. Both are okay.
Budd explained that the videos were to capture wildlife like bobcats and deer and give the people of Florida the chance to appreciate wildlife better. She told Insider, “We live in beautiful southwest Florida, and the wildlife is part of what makes this region so unique. And this project end goal is to develop a tool that can help to educate people about living with wildlife and hopefully reduce the likelihood of conflicts like this one.”
She finished by saying, “I’ve spoken with the homeowners and after this encounter, they are still just as passionate about wildlife and still have a great appreciation for the beauty of their surroundings. I also think they have a deeper respect for the wildlife that share the area around their backyard and — hopefully — their pup will be leashed while exploring back there from now on.”