A dog named Harper was adopted from the North Shore Animal League in 2017 and she’s been the best companion to her mom, Erin O’Donnell. But Harper is still nervous in new situations and takes some time to warm up when she meets new people. Her anxiety is high around strangers. One day Erin was performing with the Brooklyn Irish Dance Company in Manhattan, so she left Harper in the care of friends and a trusted dog walker. However, when they were out for their walk a cab driver ran a stop sign and hit Harper and the dog walker. Both were okay after the incident, but Harper was so scared she took off and never stopped running until she reach the East River in New York City and then jumped into the water.
Harper began swimming in circle and onlookers first thought it was just a dog out for a swim with its owner watching, but the dog walker soon arrived on the scene. They soon realized that it was Harper who had run away and they realized she was slowing down. The water was very cold that day and in her panic, Harper was exerting a lot of energy. They knew she wouldn’t be able to stay afloat much longer, so a man in crowd decided to jump in to save her. He happened to be a graduate of SUNY Maritime College and has extensive water survival experience. He realized Harper wasn’t swimming to shore, so he saved her from drowning. He found a life vest and put it on before expertly jumping in. By then, nearly 300 people had gathered to witness the event.
The man stripped down to his underwear because the conditions weren’t great and the water was cold. He was able to lower himself down closer to the water, then jumped in. Harper was still swimming at a steady pace when he jumped in and he had to swim hard to catch her. Once she saw him coming toward him, she swam even harder to get away because she was terrified. He eventually got her in his arms and they returned to shore to the cheers of the crowd. Both were exhausted but completely fine after being examined by medical professionals. All thanks to that onlooker who became a hero that day.