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

FLORIDA (ANN): 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.

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.” – Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

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