A dog whose owner pulled him from the jaws of an attacking alligator in south Florida has officially been announced as Lee County's newest Sheriff’s deputy.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office posted a video showing Sheriff Carmine Marceno officially deputising the four-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Gunner, as a member of the department’s Deputy Dogs programme.
Gunner became a social media sensation after the video of his rescue by Richard Wilbanks from the jaws of the alligator went viral.
A man risked his life to save that of his beloved puppy's from the grip of an alligator in Florida – neither were seriously injured in the incident. Florida Wildlife Federation said that serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in the US state | https://t.co/gmOvJMqqQt pic.twitter.com/76tgbmfKlC— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 24, 2020
Cameras set up by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the FSTOP Foundation captured the moment when Mr Wilbanks grabs the alligator as he emerges from a pond near his house in Estero.
Holding the reptile with his hands while Gunner is still in its jaws, Mr Wilbank calmly approaches the edge of the pond with a cigar in his mouth.
"Saved the puppy from getting eaten by an alligator and never dropped his cigar, a true legend," one Twitter user said, reacting to the video of the rescue.
Eventually, Gunner gets away while Mr Wilbanks manages to take his own hands out of the animal’s mouth.
Gunner will serve as a safety and security officer under the Deputy Dogs Pets on Patrol programme at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.