Moment Florida man wrests puppy out of alligator’s jaws without dropping his cigar

Barney Davis
·2 min read
 (F Stop Foundation)
(F Stop Foundation)

A Florida pensioner has been hailed as a hero after managing to wrest his small puppy from the jaws of an alligator without dropping his cigar.

Richard Wilbanks, 74, was walking with his three-month-old cocker spaniel Gunner near Fort Myers when the reptile snatched the pup and dragged him into the lake.

But, claiming “instinct took over”, Mr Wilbanks bravely strode into the lake and managed to find the beast before it disappeared into the water.

Holding the alligator, he dragged it to the shore and, yelling with the strain, managed to pry apart its grip on Gunner with his bare hands.

The puppy can be seen stumbling away with a puncture wound to its side after the struggle.

The incredible moment was captured on video and has been viewed nearly 14 million times on Twitter.

“We were just out walking by the pond and it came out of the water like a missile,” ," Mr Wilbanks told CNN. "I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick.

<p>The moment the puppy breaks frees from his reptilian assailant</p>fSTOP Foundation

The moment the puppy breaks frees from his reptilian assailant

fSTOP Foundation

“It all happened so fast. It was just reaction and adrenaline.”

"I just automatically jumped into the water."

fSTOP Foundation
fSTOP Foundation

Holding the alligator wasn't so tough, but prying open the jaws was "extremely hard," he said.

The pensioner said his hands were "chewed up" so had to have tetanus shots. All of his wounds have now healed.

Mr Wilbanks wife, Louise, promised to keep Gunner - who has recovered well but is understandably nervous around water after the October attack - on a lead from now on.

<p>Gunner suffered a single puncture wound to his side</p>TODAY

Gunner suffered a single puncture wound to his side

TODAY

Cameras have been set up in the area because of a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation to monitor wildlife and encourage animals and humans to co-exist.

Mr Wilbanks agrees with the mission and has left the alligator to live in his pond but now walks Gunner 10ft away from the water’s edge surface with a lead.