Heroic dog recovers from fight with alligator and becomes sheriff’s deputy

A puppy, who made headlines around the world last month when he was plucked from the jaws of a deadly alligator by his owner, has been appointed an honorary ‘deputy dog’ by the Florida sheriff’s office.

Richard Wilbanks was walking near a pond in his hometown of Esteros , Florida, with his wife and their 4-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Gunner, when an alligator “shot out like a missile” and grabbed the pup.

Richard, 74, didn't hesitate. He dived into the pond and wrestled Gunner out of the ‘gator’s jaws.

“It all happened so fast,” he said.

“It was just reaction and adrenaline."

Richard didn’t lose his cool. He even kept his cigar in his mouth during the titanic tug-of-war.

Eventually he managed to get the upper hand, free Gunner an threw the alligator over a fence.

The incredible moment was captured on video by a camera set up by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fSTOP Foundation.

Now the Lee County Sheriff’s Office has honoured Gunner for his “tenacity and fight for survival,” by naming him their “safety and security officer for Deputy Dogs."

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marcelo praised the little dog’s bravery: “That tenacity is exactly what we need with our detectives and Gunner is a proud detective today.”

He added: “Deputy Dog is an amazing program and does amazing things and we get to teach children and the youth today.”

But Gunner might have to wait a little while before he can go on any stakeouts.

Richard's wife, Louise says he isn’t allowed to go wandering off on his own after his dramatic adventure.

“He’s now on a leash all the time,” she told US breakfast TV show Good Morning America.

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