See A Florida Man Pry an Alligator’s Jaws Open To Save His Puppy

Written by Opal
Updated: February 22, 2023
© Deborah Ferrin/
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Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Key Points:

  • Always make sure your pet is on a leash and far enough away from water if alligators are known to be in the area.
  • Alligators can strike quickly and seemingly out of nowhere. The gator in the video was said to have gotten the puppy as quickly as a snake.
  • The video was captured by cameras that track wildlife in the area like deer and bobcats.

Florida has it all, whether you’re seeking vibrant nightlife, exclusive coastlines, or backyards teeming with alligators! A family in the Sunshine State was having a typical day until the husband came in contact with a gator! 

Richard Wilbanks and his darling three-month-old puppy, Gunner, were relaxing in their backyard on a day off. On a Sunday morning in late October, the dynamic duo took a walk around the pond near the Wilbanks’ residence. Unbeknownst to Richard or the puppy, an alligator was watching as the two walked along the shoreline.

Alligator Caution signs can help visitors to keep pets safe

©Chad Robertson Media/

In a flash, the gator, which was over four feet long, leaped out of the water and grabbed Gunner. Before realizing it, Richard dove into the water and started chasing the dog and the reptile that had it in its grip. Your emotions take over in a scenario like this, and Wilbanks wasn’t about to let the creature get away with snatching his furry friend.

“I turned around,” says Richard, “I heard him yelp and I turned around and I saw the alligator swimming off with him and I just jumped in the water.” He continues by saying, “I caught up with the alligator and grabbed him and wrestled him up to the bank and then had to pry his mouth open to get Gunner out.”

Alligators are drawn to the sounds and motions of small animals. There are rumors that they like to devour dogs. If you choose to walk your dog near the ocean or any body of water with alligators or crocs, make sure your pet is on a leash and keep a close eye out for any potential hazards. 

Making a Run For It

“It was like a missile,” the pet owner says about the interaction. “We were only about three feet away from it, but it struck like a snake. It had Gunner in a vise grip and I just rushed in.”

Richard dives into the pond while holding a burning cigar in his mouth and pulls out the alligator that has Gunner firmly in its grasp. Wilbanks exerts all of his force to force the alligator’s jaw apart widely so that his dog can flee. Gunner leaps from the beast’s mouth and sprints toward the grassy shore.

American Alligator swimming in the spring swamp in Texas

© Larson

Regarding the terrible moment, Richard explains, “It was like a missile. Despite the fact that we were only a few feet away, it struck like a snake. I raced in as Gunner was being held in a vice. 

Every dog owner would act in the same way.  When your natural instincts arise, our team of professionals knows our readers will do whatever it takes to keep their four-legged buddies safe since we consider them to be family. We’re happy that Richard and Gunner both survived very minor injuries and have a great tale to share!

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The Featured Image

alligator with its mouth hanging open
Any standing body of water in Florida could house a gator, making swamps, rivers, lakes, and drainage pools all potentially dangerous.
© Deborah Ferrin/

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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