Wildlife cameras recently captured a shocking video of a retiree in Florida saving his puppy from the mouth of an alligator.
Richard Wilbanks said that the alligator came out of nowhere, but he didn't think twice before jumping in the water to save his puppy Gunner's life.
“He just came out like a missile,” Wilbanks said of the alligator.
Wilbanks said that his animals are like children to him.
He rushed into the water and wrestled the alligator, prying open its jaws until it released the dog. Gunner is shockingly unharmed after the incident, despite being dragged underwater in the alligator's jaws.
Wilbanks had a few small injuries on his hands, but his dog is doing just fine.
“They had one little puncture wound. My hands were just chewed up. But I was able to save Gunner’s life,” Wilbanks told WCRG.
The terrifying incident was captured on cameras that were set up by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fStop Foundation. The cameras are set up as a part of an initiative called Sharing the Landscape, with the hopes of helping people understand wildlife better.
“The video was jarring,” said Meredith Budd, the regional policy director at the Florida Wildlife Foundation.
“It gives us a new appreciation. We do need to be aware they are wild animals,” Louise Wilbanks said. “They’re not here for our benefit. We’re very lucky to share the space with them.”
Richard Wilbanks says that his dog gunner is now a bit afraid of getting near the water, but he says that might not be a bad thing.
“Keep your guard up, enjoy, but don’t get too close,” Louise Wilbanks said.
The Wilbanks said that they weren't going to call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission to report the incident because he says they were the ones who were in the alligator’s home and that it was doing what it needed to do to survive.
Alligator attacks on humans are actually extremely rare, even in Florida, but it probably happens to pets quite often.
Florida alligator bite statistics date back to 1948, usually ranging around three major bites per year. The chance of someone being attacked is one in 3.2 million. The worst years for fatalities were 2001 and 2006, with three people dying each of those years from Florida alligator attacks. And there have only been 23 fatalities between 1948 and 2016. There have even been stretches during which no fatal attacks by alligators occurred in Florida.
It is estimated that about 1.3 million alligators live in Florida.