The video of Richard Wilbanks, 74, went viral, showing him jump into a pond to pull his 3-month-old puppy, Gunner, away from the alligator.
“We were just out walking by the pond,” Wilbanks said, according to People. “It came out of the water like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick.”
Wilbanks said that he “automatically” jumped in to save his dog, wrestling with the small alligator, which he claimed was no problem.
He did find it “extremely hard” to pry open the gator’s jaws.
Wilbanks and his wife, Louise, said they appreciate the efforts of the two groups, and their campaign, called “Sharing the Landscape.”
“It gives us a new appreciation,” Louise Wilbanks told WINK. “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.”
Wilbanks said he understands that he was walking around the gator’s home and that it was just doing what it needed to survive. He didn’t call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission over the incident because he wanted to leave the alligator alone.
Wilbanks said his hands were “chewed up” by the encounter, and he had a tetanus shot just to be safe.
Gunner, meanwhile, had a single puncture wound to its stomach. The puppy is healing well after a trip to the vet’s office.
“I would like to emphasize for people that have pets to make sure that they keep them away from the edge of the water,” Wilbanks said.