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Florida retiree wrestles puppy from jaws of alligator

November 21, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

In a dramatic encounter recorded by surveillance cameras, a Florida man chased an alligator under water and rescued his 3-month-old puppy from the jaws of death.

(CNN)In a dramatic encounter recorded by surveillance cameras, a Florida man chased an alligator under water and rescued his 3-month-old puppy from the jaws of death.

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

"We were just out walking by the pond," Wilbanks told CNN, "and it came out of the water like a missile.

Holding the alligator wasn't so tough, but prying open the jaws was "extremely hard," he said.

Wilbanks said his hands were "chewed up," and he went to a doctor for a tetanus shot.

"We live on a shared landscape," Meredith Budd of the wildlife federation told affiliate WINK.

Wilbanks agrees with that mission and he doesn't want the alligator removed from the pond or destroyed.

"They're part of nature and part of our lives," he said.

He still takes Gunner walking, but he keeps the puppy on a leash -- and 10 feet from the pond's edge.

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