ESTERO, Fla. – A heroic rescue was captured on video after an Estero retiree volunteered to have cameras put in his backyard.
What the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fStop Foundation didn’t expect to capture from the video project, called Sharing the Landscape, was Richard Wilbanks prying his 3-month-old puppy from the jaws of an alligator.
Wilbanks, 74, said he was out walking the Cavalier King Charles spaniel by the pond near the back of his house.
“And it came out of the water like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick,” he told CNN.
The owner jumped into action and into the water to grab the puppy.
The puppy had a puncture wound in his belly and is doing fine. The owner suffered minor injuries to his hand.
“We do need to be aware they are wild animals. They’re not here for our benefit. We’re very lucky to share this space with them,” Louise Wilbanks, Richard’s wife, told TV station WINK.
The pet owners said they will now make sure that Gunner is always on a leash, but after the incident, the puppy doesn’t go near the water, they said.
The idea of the video project involves residents who live in areas that border wild habitat in Lee County. They volunteer to have cameras placed in their backyards to document wildlife that live and share the same landscape, according to Meredith Budd, regional policy director for the wildlife federation, reported Fort Myers newspaper, the News-Press.