START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
5,669,207 people care about Animal Welfare

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

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

This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on January 15, 2013. Enjoy!

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.”

Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase

Related Stories:

Puppies Saved From Burning House

Chained in the Middle of Nowhere, 120 Dogs  Rescued

Puppy Torturers Out of Business in LA?

Read more: , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
1:24AM PDT on Mar 15, 2015

True love.

6:21AM PST on Jan 18, 2015

Heartwarming story! Please visit:

12:49AM PST on Jan 16, 2014

A nice ending to what could have been tragic. Thanks for sharing.

10:13PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Wonderful that John saved his rabbits life. The kid that did this deserves a harsh penalty but suggesting he burn is way too harsh. It scares me sometimes what kind of "justice" some people would dish out. Fortunately these people are usually not in a position of power.

10:19PM PDT on Aug 5, 2013

I have a 9 year old cat named Barney. He and my little cat Missy are my babies. My human baby is 13 and taller than me.

7:43PM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

Very sweet story....

5:42AM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

thanks for sharing

5:45PM PDT on Jul 30, 2013

Good man. People judge homeless people way too often,without even knowing the situation.

5:37PM PDT on Jul 21, 2013


3:30PM PDT on Jul 19, 2013

I agree with all below /above. That Gary Kearney is a worthless piece of scum, and I am so glad John could save his bunny. I was crying watching this, at the love he has for his pets. I too wish someone would offer him a job and a home, on the streets since 14!! A long time! Britain does not do enough to help our homeless people, AT ALL!

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

meet our writers

Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!