Florida puppy rescued from alligator is now a ‘detective’


The puppy who was saved from a hungry alligator by his cigar-chomping, Florida Man owner is now top dog at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Gunner, the 4-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who made national headlines last month when video of the close encounter attack went viral, is now reporting for duty as the department’s Safety and Security Officer for Deputy Dogs.

The heart-warming ceremony was posted on the department’s Facebook page on Tuesday.

“Do you swear to uphold the constitutional law for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Gunner?” Sheriff Carmine Marceno asks the plucky pooch, as he adds a shiny new shield to his collar. “OK, this is a big day. You’re going to be a detective now.”

Gunner nearly became an afternoon snack last month when a gator snapped him up in Lee County. But his owner, Richard Wilbanks, sprang into action, jumping into the pond and wrestling the gator’s jaws open to free the pup — all without ever dropping his cigar.

“I just jumped in the water and caught up with the alligator and got my hands on him and dragged him up tot he bank and pried his jaws open,” Wilbanks recalled in the video of Gunner’s promotion posted on the sheriff’s Facebook page. “I just wasn’t letting him have my puppy for breakfast.”

Gunner will now get to work teaching children about safety with the Deputy Dogs program, First Coast News reported.

Richard Wilbanks rescues Gunner from an alligator's mouth in Estero, Florida.
Richard Wilbanks rescues Gunner from an alligator’s mouth in Estero, Florida.
fStop Foundation/Florida Wildlife

“Gunner is going to educate all children about safety through out Lee County,” said Carmine Dellaquilla, of the sheriff’s department. “School bus safety, safety as it relates to the water — alligators in the pond, toads, cane toads. Any types of danger that children face every day.”

Marceno applauded Gunner’s “tenacity.”

“The ending of this story is great,” he said. “Gunner, our detective, the little dog, is safe with his homeowner and it’s a great day.”