Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Video of Dramatic Puppy Rescue Is Also a Lesson in Pet Safety Near Alligators

Animals
Video of Dramatic Puppy Rescue Is Also a Lesson in Pet Safety Near Alligators
Florida Wildlife Federation / NBC2News / YouTube

In a dramatic rescue captured on camera, a Florida man ran into a pond and pried open an alligator's mouth in order to rescue his beloved puppy, all without dropping his cigar.


The protagonist of the video is 74-year-old Richard Wilbanks of Estero, Florida, who risked his hands in order to save his three-month old Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Gunner from the jaws of an almost four-foot alligator.

"It was like a missile," Willbanks told the Fort Myers News-Press of the alligator. "We were only about 3 feet away from it, but it struck like a snake. It had Gunner in a vise grip and I just rushed in."

Wilbanks told CNN that grabbing a hold of the gator was the easy part. The hard part was prying its jaws open. After Wilbanks managed to free Gunner, the alligator then bit down on his hands, the Fort Myers News-Press reported.

"He had one little puncture wound, and... my hands were just chewed up," Wilbanks told WINK.

After tending to his hands, Wilbanks rushed Gunner to the animal hospital, where he was treated for a puncture wound, the Fort-Myers News Press reported. However, he has now fully recovered.

Wilbanks has learned from the incident. He has bought Gunner a new leash, and plans to keep him at least 10 feet from the pond at all times.

He has "a new leash on life," Wilbanks told the Fort Myers News-Press.

Education is also the reason that footage of the rescue was made public. Wilbanks' property borders a nature reserve, and a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF) and the fSTOP Foundation put cameras in the area to monitor wildlife. All told, there are 17 cameras in 15 backyards in Estero.

The purpose of the project, called Sharing the Landscape, is to teach residents how to live safely and respectfully with wild animals.

"We live on a shared landscape," FWF regional policy director Meredith Budd told WINK. "We don't just want to tolerate wildlife, but, rather, we want to thrive with wildlife on a shared landscape."

The project decided to share the video of the rescue, which was captured late in October, in order to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

"If we understand how to deal with them [wildlife], how to interact with them. The outcome is always positive," William Freund of the fSTOP Foundation told NBC2.

Wilbanks and his wife Louise have loved living so close to nature, and their close call hasn't changed their point of view. Willbanks told WINK he did not call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) because he understood that the alligator was just doing what he needed to do to survive.

"It gives us a new appreciation," Louise told WINK. "We do need to be aware they are wild animals. They're not here for our benefit. We're very lucky to share this space with them."

Wilbanks told the Fort Myers News-Press that the alligator was still swimming in the pond.

FWC told WINK that alligators rarely cause serious injuries in Florida, but that pet owners should take proper precautions.

"We encourage everyone to take precautionary measures, particularly those who live or recreate near the water. Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators," the FWC said in a statement.

By Frank La Sorte and Kyle Horton

Millions of birds travel between their breeding and wintering grounds during spring and autumn migration, creating one of the greatest spectacles of the natural world. These journeys often span incredible distances. For example, the Blackpoll warbler, which weighs less than half an ounce, may travel up to 1,500 miles between its nesting grounds in Canada and its wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Kevin Maillefer / Unsplash

By Lynne Peeples

Editor's note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, "Thirsting for Solutions," here.

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city's tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

Read More Show Less
New Zealand sea lions are an endangered species and one of the rarest species of sea lions in the world. Art Wolfe / Photodisc / Getty Images

One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.

Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less

piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In an alarming new study, scientists found that climate change is already harming children's diets.

Read More Show Less