WATCH: Elderly man frees pet dog from alligator’s jaws using bare hands | Inquirer News

WATCH: Elderly man frees pet dog from alligator’s jaws using bare hands

/ 07:02 PM November 26, 2020
puppy, alligator

Richard Wilbanks risked his life to save his puppy, Gunner, from an alligator. Image: Facebook/Florida Wildlife Federation

An elderly man used his bare hands to pry open the jaws of an alligator that suddenly clamped onto his puppy in Florida, USA.

Richard Wilbanks and his 3-month-old puppy, Gunner, were walking near his backyard pond at the end of October when the reptile attacked. After latching onto the dog, the alligator quickly dragged it back underwater, as per the Fort Myers News-Press on Nov. 21.


Wilbanks then jumped into the pond and forced the alligator’s mouth open as Gunner yelped. Once the alligator loosened its bite, Gunner quickly ran off to dry land.

“[The alligator] just came out like a missile,” Wilbanks told CBS-affiliate WINK.


The heroic act was recorded on a camera that was set up by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation as part of a campaign to encourage the public to thrive with wild animals. The Florida Wildlife Federation later posted the video of the rescue on its Facebook page.

By now, you've likely seen THIS video. It was captured on a nature camera as part of our Sharing the Landscape Project with the FStop Foundation.For this project, volunteers were selected and cameras were placed in their backyards to document wildlife that live and share the landscape with the residents. Education is one of the most important tools to help reduce human-wildlife conflict. In this particular incident, we are so thankful that Gunner, Mr. Wilbanks, and the gator are all alive and well. Gunner will now be leashed for his outside time to prevent any other curious adventures to the water's edge in the future!To learn more about this initiative, visit

Posted by Florida Wildlife Federation on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Though Gunner sustained a small puncture wound and Wilbanks’ hands were “just chewed up,” he assured that they are now doing fine.

While Gunner is now “a little hesitant” to approach water, Wilbanks considers the incident a learning experience. He also promises to always keep Gunner on a leash and away from water from now on.


“I would like to emphasize for people that have pets to make sure that they keep them away from the edge of the water,” Wilbanks told the news outlet.

Meanwhile, Florida Wildlife Federation’s regional policy director, Meredith Budd, hopes that their project helps residents realize that they live on a “shared landscape.”

“We don’t just want to tolerate wildlife, but, rather, we want to thrive with wildlife on a shared landscape,” she said in the report.

Wilbanks’ wife, Louise, echoed her sentiments, adding that the campaign gives them a “new appreciation” for wildlife.

“We do need to be aware they are wild animals. They’re not here for our benefit,” Louise said. “We’re very lucky to share this space with them.” Ryan Arcadio /ra


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TAGS: alligators, Florida, pets, puppy, United States
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