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Video of man in Estero wrestling alligator to save dog goes viral

A man in Southwest Florida risked his life for his puppy, and his unbelievable rescue story has gone viral. Many have seen the video that captured him prying an alligator’s mouth open enough to release his beloved pet.

People from around the world are calling Richard and Louise Wilbanks in Estero, wanting to hear the story.

We caught up with the married couple again and spoke to them about the attention they are getting. For starters, they told us it has been surprising but exciting. They say it’s been a nice distraction from all of the negative things going on in the world in 2020.

Richard and Louise never expected what happened to them and their puppy, Gunner, would be seen around the world. They especially never expected to see themselves on every major TV network.

“All of a sudden, the phone started ringing, and people from all over the country said, ‘We saw you,’” Louise said.

“All over the world,” Wilbanks said.

They also did not expect to be doing interviews from sun up to sun down with people around the globe.

“We’ve talk to and visited with people in Germany and Canada and Australia,” Louise said.

“It’s been unimaginable,” Richard said. “Just the outpouring from people just wishing us well. It’s been just phenomenal.”

It all started with video of Richard Wilbanks wrestling an alligator and prying open its jaws to save Gunner.

Gunner is safe and well despite being snatched by the gator. Wilbanks and the fSTOP foundation believe this is a lesson everyone can learn from.

“Nature was here first, and then we moved into their habitats,” Louise said. “We need to allow them to continue to live in their habitat, and we need to respect where they are.”

“Rick and Louise are the perfect examples,” said William Freund, the president and founder of fSTOP Foundation. “Many people would be calling for the alligator to be removed, and instead they very quickly acknowledged and said this was our mistake.”

It’s a mistake they say they won’t make again and a story they’re glad had a happy ending they could share with the world.

“Gunner is fine. I am fine, and the alligator is fine,” Wilbanks said. “It’s just turned out to be a feel-good story that I think the country needed at this time.”

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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