Richard Wilbanks, 74, from Estero, ran into the backyard of his home, tied a bracelet above it, and decorated it to launch a free Gunner, Cavalier King Charles spaniel.
“We were walking out of the water, and it came out like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be so fast,” Wilbanks told CNN.
He said the adrenaline or instinct started to come in, and “I just jumped into the water automatically.”
He says catching a crocodile is not difficult, but opening its mouth is “extremely difficult.”
Wilbanks said his hand was “bent,” and he went to Mr. Fo for a tetanus shot.
Gunner had a single laceration in his abdomen and was doing well after traveling to the vet’s office.
Rescue south of Fort Myers was captured on camera by a collaboration between the Florida Wildlife Association and the fSTOP Foundation.
Wilbanks agreed with the mission and did not want the crocodiles removed from the cage or destroyed.
“They are part of nature and part of our lives,” he said.
He still takes the Gunner on a walk, but he still keeps the walls small – and at 10 feet from the edge of the cliff. “Our pets, they are like our family,” he said.