After a thoughtless, cruel act by a young hooligan, a homeless man risked his life to save his beloved pet.
John Byrne is a well known and liked man who in 2011 lived on a bridge in Dublin, Ireland and kept two pets, a Jack Russell Terrier and a rabbit he named Barney. One evening an 18-year-old man stole John’s rabbit and tossed it into the River Liffey.
The River Liffey is known to be filthy and have very strong currents, claiming lives every year. But despite the dangers, John jumped in after Barney to save him.
Miraculously, he managed to save Barney from drowning. After jumping into the water and successfully retrieving Barney, he had to pump air back into Barney’s lungs, and help the rabbit regain consciousness.
However, John was stranded below the bridge. Freezing cold and unable to reach the bank safely, John had to wait for his own rescue by Dublin firefighters. Half way through the rescue, John is seen scuffling with the rescue team because the rescuers were taking John away from the bridge where his dog was waiting.
When John was asked why he risked his life for Barney and jumped into the Liffey,he said, “Because he is my child, I love him and I just wanted to save him. I didn’t think I just jumped.”
The youth responsible was arrested and convicted on animal cruelty charges. John, meanwhile, was recognized for his bravery and was given a ‘compassionate citizen award’ by a local charity.
Here are a few videos of John and Barney’s rescue by firefighter crews.