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Caught on Camera: Florida Man Leaps Into Pond to Pry Puppy from Gator’s Jaws

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A Florida man didn’t hesitate risking his own life to save the life of his puppy after the young dog was snatched from the shore and dragged under water in the blink of an eye—and the entire encounter was caught on a nearby trail cam.

Richard Wilbanks, 74, of Estero, Florida said his instincts and adrenaline kicked in when an alligator shot out of the pond just outside his backyard “like a missile” and snatched his 3-month old puppy, Gunner.

Nearby cameras set up by Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation. captured the heart-pounding footage which, thankfully, ended with Gunner being freed from the gator’s grip.

“They’re like children to us, so there was no second thought whatsoever,” Wilbanks said.

The courageous puppy parent told CNN grabbing the gator wasn’t the hard part, but prying open his jaws to free Gunner was “extremely hard.”

Miraculously, both Gunner and Richard are mostly unharmed. Gunner suffered a single puncture wound to his stomach that was treated by a veterinarian and Richard suffered several cuts to his hands and went to a doctor for a tetanus shot.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encouraged pet owners to take precautions near bodies of water. In a statement to WINK, they said, “Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Do not allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators. Keep pets on a short leash and away from the water.”

Richard says he’ll still take Gunner for walks along their favorite route, but Gunner will always be leashed and they’ll stay at least 10-feet from the water’s edge.

“Fortunately, I was in a position that I was able to save Gunner’s life,” Wilbanks said.

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