Richard Wilbanks, 74, rushed into action as soon as he saw the attack. Speaking to CNN, Wilbanks said:
"It came out of the water like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick. I just automatically jumped into the water."
People are calling the retiree a hero. But as far as Richard is concerned, he just did what any other dog parent would do.
Instinct kicked in
"It was instinct," continued Richard. "They're like children to us, so there was no second thought whatsoever."
The pup, 3-month old Cavalier King Charles Gunner, received a single puncture wound to the belly during the dramatic attack. Richard also sustained some injuries to his hand. However, the pair received the all-clear from their vet and doctor following tetanus shots to stop any infections.
The incident was captured on a surveillance camera set-up to monitor local wildlife. Footage shows Richard wading waist-deep in water as he prises open the alligator's jaws.
Keeping Gunnar safe
The gator is far from fully-grown, although it was still big enough to pose a life-threatening risk for little Gunnar. Richard holds no resentment toward the alligator, saying the creatures are "just part of nature" But he has promised to keep Gunnar away from the water during all future walks.
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