Kicker – A new leash on life

NICK EICHER, HOST: You’ve heard of “Florida Man,” the internet meme, as a sort of anti-hero, ne’er-do-well. 

But this story will put “Manly” into Florida Man.

Richard Wilbanks lives next to a wild nature preserve down there. And if you know South Florida wildlife, you know it frequently involves thick, scaly skin and terrifying teeth. 

Well, Mr. Wilbanks was out on a walk near a pond along with his 3-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a puppy he calls “Gunner.” 

You can imagine what happens next, but stick with me, happy ending.

A 4-foot alligator shoots out of the water—as Wilbanks describes—“like a missile,” snatches Gunner, and drags him into the pond.

WILBANKS: You know, instinct just took over and adrenaline kicked in.

Be honest with you, I have a different instinct, but for this 72-year-old man—still chomping on his cigar—has the instinct of trying to rescue the pup.

WILBANKS: You know, I just went right in the water after the ’gator and Gunner.


So, waist deep in murky water, Wilbanks has hold of the gator, which still has hold of Gunner. He’s prying those powerful jaws open and, sorry for this, but the pup is yelping in pain and fear. 

You can hear Wilbanks struggling with this steel-trap jaw. But Wilbanks wins, shakes the puppy free, and hangs on to the gator for a bit before throwing it back in the water to spare his scraped up hands.

I love it. Wilbanks made the alligator spit out the pup, but he hung on to the cigar the whole time.

As for Gunner, he had puncture wounds but the vet patched him up and he’s good as new.

Says Wilbanks: His pup has a new “leash” on life.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

(Photo/fStop Foundation, Florida Wildlife Federation)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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