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Puppy saved from alligator honoured with ‘deputy dog’ by Florida Sheriff

‘I just wasn’t going to let him have my puppy for breakfast’

Louise Hall
Wednesday 16 December 2020 14:37 GMT
Florida puppy that escaped alligator's jaws becomes sheriff 'deputy dog'

A puppy rescued from the jaws of an alligator in Florida has been honoured by a local Sheriff and made a deputy dog following his near escape.

Gunner, a five-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was bestowed the role after showing “tenacity” in his brush with the beast in Lee County, Florida in October, ABC 7 reported.

The dog became locked in the jaws of an alligator in a pond while out on a walk with his owner, Richard Wilbanks prompting him to step in and fight off the reptile.

“We were just out for a Sunday morning stroll by a pond and Gunner, all of a sudden, I just heard him yelp,” Mr Wilbanks said.

“I looked around and saw the alligator swimming around the pond with him. I just jumped in the water and caught up with the alligator, got my hands on him and drug him up to the bank and pinned him down and pried his jaws open.”

Now, the young pup has been honoured by Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno with a “deputy dog” title and his very own badge to match.

"Do you swear to uphold the Constitutional law for the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Gunner? Ok,” Mr Marceno asked the puppy during the “deputy dog” ceremony.

“This is a big day, OK. You are going to be a detective now. Here we go,” he added.

A video of the dramatic incident reportedly captured on video by a Florida Wildlife Federation camera shows the moment Gunner was successfully freed from the alligator's grasp in the heroic rescue.

Mr Wilbanks added: “I just wasn’t going to let him have my puppy for breakfast.”

“Crazy story. Happy to say that Gunner is here today because of Rick’s fast actions, jumping in without hesitation,” the sheriff told BBC News.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dogs, Pets on Patrol programme aims to educate children about safety and encourages pet owners to pay attention to suspicious activity while out with their pets.

“Deputy dogs is an amazing programme and does amazing things. And we get to teach children and the youth today," Mr Marceno said.

“Gunner is a proud detective today.”

Mr Wilbanks confirmed to WKMG-TV that the alligator was still in the pond after the encounter and that everyone involved in the incident was fine.

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