ESTERO, Fla. — This video has now gone viral, showing an Estero man saving his dog from the jaws of an alligator.
Richard Wilbanks, better known to friends as Rick, was taking a walk in his backyard with his puppy Gunnar one Sunday morning in October when an alligator jumped out of the pond, grabbed the dog and took off back into the water.
"I had a bloody mary and cigar and all of a sudden I heard Gunnar squeal. I just looked and saw the alligator’s tail and I knew he had Gunnar. I didn’t know how big the alligator was or anything I just automatically dropped the bloody mary and jumped in the water and tried to catch the gator," says Wilbanks.
The attack and rescue were caught on camera by the Florida Wildlife Federation.
"They called up here and they were like ‘You won’t believe what we’ve got on our camera’ and I said ‘I think I probably know what you’ve got on there',” says Wilbanks.
The footage of the attack shocked wildlife officials.
"We have never seen anything like this in any of our footage," says Meredith Budd, Regional Policy Director of the Florida Wildlife Federation, "It was shocking to say the very least, we were extremely relieved that everyone was okay. The dog was okay, the homeowner was okay, and the gator was actually okay."
Budd says this video is a reminder of all the wildlife that lives among us here in Southwest Florida. She says that Wilbanks actions were courageous but advisable.
"If you do feel threatened get inside! Leave the area, get inside, get to safety and then I would give the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission a call," says Budd.
Gunnar and Rick both sustained minor injuries from the attack, but they are both doing well now.
"You can see he is just fine now! I was telling him this morning, he’s still got his puppy teeth and he gnaws on my fingers, and I told him I don’t know who’s worse you or the alligator!" says Wilbanks.