Florida Man, 74, Wrestles Alligator To Save His Puppy in Viral Video

A surveillance camera recorded the moment a retiree jumped into a pond to save his puppy from the jaws of an alligator.

  • Robert Wilbanks had to pry open the jaws of the alligator to rescue his 3-month-old puppy. 
  • Wilbanks needed a tetanus shot after his hands were “chewed up”.
  • Gunner the puppy had one puncture wound in his belly but recovered after seeing a veterinarian.

Robert Wilbanks was walking his 3-month-old puppy when an alligator suddenly jumped out of a nearby pond and snatched it.

The 74-year-old man responded to his instincts and immediately jumped into the pond to rescue his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Gunner. A surveillance camera recorded the moment Wilbanks wrestled with the gator, prying its jaws open to free the puppy. In the footage, one can see Gunner break free and run away from the alligator while Wilbanks holds its jaws open.

Speaking to CNN, the retiree explained: “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.” Wilbanks further disclosed that catching and holding the alligator was not too difficult; however, he notes that trying to pry its jaws open was “extremely hard”. Recalling the adrenaline and instinct he felt to save his puppy, the man told WINK News, “They’re like children to us, so there was no second thought whatsoever”.

Wilbanks does not want the alligator removed from the pond.

The incident left Gunner with a puncture wound which was successfully treated by a veterinarian. In addition to this, Wilbanks revealed that his hands had been “chewed up” and that he had needed a tetanus shot. Nevertheless, the retiree claims that he does not want the alligator to be removed from its home. Meredith Budd, the regional policy director of the Florida Wildlife Federation said, “We 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.” Agreeing with this, Wilbanks explained that he understands that the alligator was trying to do what he has to do to survive and that this pond is his home. “They’re part of nature and part of our lives,” he noted.

When going on walks, Wilbanks now keeps Gunner on a leash and 10 feet away from the pond. To ensure that other people do not have a similar experience, Wilbanks claimed, “I would like to emphasize for people that have pets to make sure that they keep them away from the edge of the water”. 

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