Remarkable footage shows a retired man rescuing his puppy from the jaws of an alligator – without even taking his cigar out of his mouth.
Richard Wilbanks, 74, rushed into a pond to wrestle with the reptile, before saving his dog Gunner’s life and presumably sitting down for a well-earned smoke.
Florida’s Mr Wilbanks told American media that he was walking his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel near his home in Estero when the alligator rushed out of the water and snatched his young pet. Video footage shows the elderly American — dressed in shorts, a cap and vest— struggling in the water, and and at one stage going under, before standing up to reveal a small alligator in his arms.
The three-month-old puppy yelps and Mr Wilbanks groans as their attacker bites into them, before he wrenches its jaws apart and set the dog free.
He later explained that Gunner suffered one small puncture wound after the attack on Friday, November 20. But Mr Wilbanks says his own hands were badly ‘sheared up’.
Social media users piled in to praise the retiree after the incident, with many noticing that despite going into the water and battling the wild animal, he managed to keep his cigar firmly in place throughout the fight.
Mr Wilbanks told ABC7: ‘I was able to save Gunner’s life, he had one little puncture wound, but my hands were just sheared up.’
He told other reporters: ‘He (the alligator) just came out like a missile.
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‘Instinct just took over and adrenaline kicked and I just went right into the water after the ‘gator and Gunner.’
Mr Wilbanks added that from now on, young Gunner will be kept on a leash.
The dog is said to be doing just fine but is a little nervous around the water, while his owner branding the incident a ‘learning experience’.
The footage was recorded by cameras set up as part of a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation and the F Star Foundation and which normally record deer and bobcats.