A 4-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is now a Florida sheriff's office "Deputy Dog" after being rescued from an alligator that dragged him underwater.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office honored the puppy, named Gunner, in a December 8 ceremony that saw it named a "safety and security officer.""Do you swear to uphold the constitutional law for the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Gunner?" Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno asked Gunner during the ceremony. "This is a big day. You are going to be a detective now, okay?"
Gunner responded by giving the sheriff a kiss on the nose before receiving his "Deputy Dog" badge.
Just a month earlier, the tiny puppy was locked in the jaws of an alligator that pulled him into the pond in his family's backyard.
"We were just out walking by the pond," Gunner's owner, Richard Wilbanks, told CNN in an earlier interview, "and it came out of the water like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick."
He said adrenaline or instinct kicked in.
"I just automatically jumped into the water," Wilbanks said.Thanks to Wilbanks, Gunner survived with only one puncture wound on his belly. His dad's hands, however, were in worse shape and needed a visit to the doctor.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office Deputy Dogs Pets on Patrol program recruits residents and their pets to "serve as community lookouts while out on their daily walks."
The program encourages pet owners to keep an eye out for suspicious activity when they're out walking with their pets. They are also asked to report animal abuse in their neighborhoods and help the sheriff's office prevent it.
"Gunner's tenacity and fight for survival proves he's the perfect candidate as the Safety and Security Officer for Deputy Dogs!" the sheriff's office said on Facebook.