10 Jul

Homeless Man Gives ‘Kiss of Life’ to Bunny Thrown Off Bridge

Care Two

Every year, pet guardians perish in desperate attemtps to save their drowning  pets. It’s a scenario that unfolds all too often. But recently there was a  rare bright spot in the realm of watery accidents as justice was handed  down in the case of a man who threw a pet bunny into a river, forcing a homeless  man to jump in to save a life.

Meet John Byrne, The Homeless Man Ready To Die Saving His Pet 


John Byrne has beeen living on the streets of Dublin since the age of 14. He  is one of approximately 5,000 homeless people in Ireland at the moment, and for  John, home isn’t measured in square feet or granite countertops. Instead home  takes the shape of a small brown rabbit and a Jack Russell Terrier who show him  what it means to be a family.

One July morning, John was begging on the O’Connell Bridge when 18-year-old  Gary Kearney took him by surprise. Kearney grabbed Barney right out of John’s  arms and hurled him over the bridge and into the river below.

Breathless and in shock, John looked over the side of the bridge with dread.  He was expecting the worst but was relieved to see that Barney had not died on  impact. The bunny was swimming in circles in the water below. Without  hesitation, John joined him in the River Liffey.

Around 200 people watched as John struggled to save Barney from being swept  away.

“I wasn’t going to leave him there,” John said. “I had to get him, I had to  jump in to get him. Barney died in my arms but I got him under the bridge  and gave him the kiss of life.”

John warms his beloved rabbit while talking to  emergency personnel. Photo courtesy Sebastian Dooris

Last month, Gary Kearney was sentenced to four months detention  after pleading guilty at Dublin District Court to animal cruelty and  torture.

John describes the sentence as “Justice. I wasn’t sure he wasn’t going  to be handed a prison sentence but it shows that the judge does not tolerate  cruelty to animals. I am absolutely delighted by the decision. Barney could have  died that day.”

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