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A brave man jumps in the NYC River to save a drowning dog

Harper is the name of a puppy who was adopted by a woman named Erin O’Donnell back in 2017. Ever since he was adopted, Harper had been a playful pup but when she is near new things, it takes her time to get warm up to them.

O’Donnell said, “Harper is a sweetheart but is very anxious especially towards strangers.”


Last week, O’Donnell who works with a music company, left Harper with a trusted dog walker and a few of her friends living in Brooklyn. Harper along with the dog walker was out for a stroll when suddenly a cab struck a stop sign. Although both Harper and dog walker was Ok, the poor dog got startled and started running and running until she was near the East River in NYC. Reaching there she never stopped and jumped straight into the water.

Harper, who was clearly in fear, started swimming ferociously. Onlookers thought that the dog’s owner was nearby and the dog was only taking a swim but they soon came to an understanding that this was not the case.

A man named Gabe Castellanos wrote on his Instagram page, “I was at the Brooklyn Barge with friends celebrating my Birthday when we thought we saw dog taking a swim. We assumed that the owner of the dog was at the nearby shore keeping a watchful eye on the pup. However, suddenly someone came running from the north side of the barge screaming Harper had run away.”

It was then when everyone on the spot started noticing that Harper had started t lose her swimming speed.  The river was cold that day and now Harper was also in a panicked state with her energy started to deplete. Gabe Castellanos, at that time, realized that he needs to do something.

Castellanos was a graduate of the SUNY Maritime College and had a lot of experience when it comes to survival skills. He decided that he was going in the water.

Castellanos told media, “Since Harper showed no signs of making it back to the shore I knew in my heart that something was needed to be done soon. I looked around for a floating device and I saw a life vest and I grabbed it.”

By the point Castellanos decided to jump in a crowd of nearly 300 people was gathered on the Barge who were all hoping for Harper’s safety. As soon as the crowd saw Castellanos and what he was about to do, everyone there started to cheer him for encouragement. A Brooklyn based filmmaker and an artist named Lorenzo Fonda was also on the barge and as soon as he saw Castellanos and what he was about to do, he took out his camera and started capturing the whole scene.

Castellanos knew that the water was cold that day and the conditions for swimming were less than ideal.  Still, he made a strategy quickly and prepared for his jump into the water. He quickly took off his clothes down to just his underwear and climbed up on the rails. After that, he lowered himself as low on the rails as he could and then he let go and dived into the water.

Castellanos said, “When I dived into the water, I heard a loud cheer from the crowd. After that my focus was no longer on the crowd and their cheers. My only focus from that point on was at breathing properly and swimming towards Harper. As I swam, the crowd went totally quiet. I think they were cheering for me but I could not hear them as I could only hear the sound of water.”

As for Harper, she was still swimming and Castellanos had to work really hard to catch up to her. As soon as Harper realized that someone was swimming towards her, she became even more frightened and panicked. She started to swim away from Castellanos with all her might.


However, Castellanos was persistent in his effort to save Harper. When he got near Harper, she lashed at him out of fear and struggled really hard when he caught her. However, he remained totally calm as he grabbed hold of Harper.


Finally, Castellanos was able to save Harper.


As soon as Castellanos had Harper in his hands, cheers broke out from the crowd again. As for Castellanos, he quickly swam back to the shore. Both Castellanos and Harper were exhausted by then and were in need of medical attention. Luckily, both of them were completely fine and are recovering back to health in their homes.


As for O’Donnell, she was in the middle of a performance and only learned about Harper’s little river swim and about the man who saved her when she got back home.

O’Donnell said, “Her paws are in bad shape, so she needs to wear trendy boots to help her recover for a few weeks.”


Castellanos was an innocent onlooker that day. He did not have to jump and risk his life to save Harper but he did all that to save an innocent life. And this makes him a true hero.

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