Richard Wilbanks, 74, of Estero bumped into his yard pond, wrestled the gator above floor, and pried its jaws open to free Gunner, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

“We had been simply out strolling by the pond,” Wilbanks informed CNN, “and it got here out of the water like a missile. I by no means thought an alligator may very well be that quick. It was so fast.”

He stated adrenaline or intuition kicked in, and “I simply robotically jumped into the water.”

Holding the alligator wasn’t so robust, however prying open the jaws was “extraordinarily exhausting,” he stated.

Wilbanks stated his arms had been “chewed up,” and he went to a health care provider for a tetanus shot.

Gunner had one puncture wound in his stomach and did nice after a visit to the veterinarian’s workplace.

The pair out walking before the gator lunged

The rescue south of Fort Myers was caught on digicam due to a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Basis.

“We dwell on a shared panorama,” Meredith Budd of the wildlife federation informed affiliate WINK. “We do not simply wish to tolerate wildlife, however, somewhat, we wish to thrive with wildlife on a shared panorama.”

Wilbanks agrees with that mission and he does not need the alligator faraway from the pond or destroyed.

“They’re a part of nature and a part of our lives,” he stated.

He nonetheless takes Gunner strolling, however he retains the pet on a leash — and 10 toes from the pond’s edge. “Our pets, they’re similar to household to us,” he stated.