ESTERO (CBSMiami) – It was one of the year’s most viral videos.

Cameras captured a Florida man’s heroic actions to rescue his 3-month-old puppy from the jaws of an alligator.

READ MORE: Business, Community Leaders Express Support For Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie

Richard Wilbanks, 74, ran into his backyard pond, wrestled the gator above the surface, and pried its jaws open to free Gunner.

Now, Gunner has been honored and has his first job.

He was sworn in this week as an honorary deputy of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. He’ll be part of a program that teaches children about water safety.

“Deputy dogs is an amazing program and does amazing things. Gunner, our detective, the little dog, is safe with its homeowner and it’s just, it’s a great day,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.

READ MORE: Taste Of The Town: KYU Miami Remains Wynwood Hotspot With Asian-Inspired Cuisine

WATCH: Richard Wilbanks Saves Gunner From An Alligator


Sheriff Marceno also credits Gunner’s owner for saving his dog’s life. Wilbanks says he just wasn’t going to let an alligator have his puppy for breakfast. He saved Gunner without ever losing his cigar.

The puppy suffered a puncture wound in his belly but is doing well after a trip to the vet.

MORE NEWS: South Florida Bride, Groom Crashers At Own Fort Lauderdale Mansion Wedding

Marceno encourages pet owners to be more aware of alligator dangers when walking their pets.