Richard Wilbanks swung into action, jumping into the pond and prizing the huge gator’s mouth wide open, in a desperate attempt to save his beloved pet, Gunner.
A video captured at the scene shows the moment his fast thinking managed to free the tiny pooch from its jaws.
Check out the terrifyingly tense clip here:
‘We were just out walking by the pond and it came out of the water like a missile,’ Wilbanks told CNN, describing the moment the gator shot out of the water and went straight for Gunner.
Fortunately, thanks to the dog owner’s sheer adrenaline and determination, the puppy managed to escape with no serious injuries.
‘They’re like children to us, so there was no second thought whatsoever,’ Wilbanks explained. ‘He had one little puncture wound, and my hands were just chewed up.’
Unsurprisingly, Wilbanks is just pleased that he was around, so that he could get there in time to save his beloved pooch.
‘Fortunately, I was in a position that I was able to save Gunner’s life,’ he said.
The video has since been shared to the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation, in a bid to educate people about how best to live alongside the wildlife in the state.
Meredith Budd, regional policy director of the Florida Wildlife Federation, told Wink News:
We 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.
‘It gives us a new appreciation. We do need to be aware they are wild animals. They’re not here for our benefit. We’re very luck to share this space with them,’ said Louise Wilbank, Richard’s wife.
Despite what was almost a very unfortunate incident for their dog, the couple both agree that the alligator shouldn’t be removed from the pond or destroyed, with Richard explaining, ‘they’re part of nature and part of our lives.’
The couple both still walk their dog in the area, however they now keep Gunner on a lead and make sure they stay at least 10 feet away from the water, in order to protect both Gunner and the wildlife from anything that could happen.