If you think the wildlife’s bad in your local area, try living in Florida. Aside from a whole host of pesky insects, there are much deadlier things to keep a lookout for, namely alligators.
There’s thought to be a population of 1.25 million alligators in Florida alone. Ponds, swamps, marshes and pretty much any source of freshwater are popular alligator hideouts.
Most of the time, alligators work on a sort of “if you don’t come near me, I won’t harm you” basis. Sounds good, right? It’s not like you want to go near one anyway.
But there’s a bit of an issue with that, because most of the time, you can’t actually see an alligator. And neither can your pets.
In a shocking video recorded in Estero, a Florida man was seen reacting to an alligator that had snatched a puppy.
74-year-old Richard Wilbanks wasn’t about to let the beast swim away with the pup, a three-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel.
Surveillance footage shows the horrifying scene as it plays out. Richard can be seen in the water, wrestling with the gator to pry open its mouth.
It soon becomes obvious why he’s doing this: because his tiny pup is caught between the gator’s jaws.
Speaking to CNN about his ordeal, Richard, the man of the moment, recalled:
“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.”
He said adrenaline or instinct kicked in, and without a thought for anything else, he jumped into the water.
Miraculously, the video shows Richard managing to pry the alligator’s mouth open, giving just enough room for his pet to slip out, where he runs to safety up a grassy verge.
According to Richard, holding the alligator wasn’t so difficult, but it was “extremely hard” to pull the jaws open.
The pup, named Gunner, is said to be doing just fine – hopefully with a newfound admiration for the man who saved him!
Richard explained to ABC7 News:
“I was able to save Gunner’s life. He had one little puncture wound.”
After a trip to the vet for a checkup, the little spaniel was given the all-clear. Unfortunately, Richard didn’t come off so lucky. He admitted:
“My hands were just chewed up.”
Richard has called his ordeal a “learning experience” – to put it lightly. He visited the doctor for a tetanus shot after the incident, and thankfully, that was all the medical attention he required.
Despite having nearly lost his dog to a gator, Richard says that he doesn’t want the creature removed from the pond.
He sided with the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation, whose partnership had resulted in the footage being filmed, and said:
“They’re part of nature and part of our lives.”
Richard hasn’t been completely put off going for walks after his nerve-wracking rescue mission.
He has admitted, however, that he’ll be keeping his puppy on a leash from now on, and the pair won’t be walking closer than 10 feet from the pond’s edge.
Talk about terrifying! Would you be so quick to jump in the water if your pet was snatched by a gator?
You can watch the video of Richard in superhero mode below – but be warned, some people may find the encounter disturbing.
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