Dramatic footage shows the moment a man jumped into a NYC river to rescue a drowning dog

When Erin O’Donnell left her dog Harper with some friends, she thought her dog would enjoy a relaxing afternoon and maybe even a nice walk with her dog walker. But, boy, was she wrong.

“She is a sweetheart but very anxious outside and around strangers,” O’Donnell told The Dodo.



While O’Donnell performed with the Brooklyn Irish Dance Company in Manhattan, Harper and her dog walker were taking a walk in Brooklyn. A cab ran a stop sign and hit both of them.

Following the accident Harper was so scared that she bolted. She ran as far as she could, and when she couldn’t run any further she jumped into the river.

Many onlookers noticed Harper in the water, but had assumed her owner was nearby and watching their pup take a dip on the hot day. But then Gabe Castellanos, who was celebrating his birthday at the Brooklyn Barge, where Harper jumped in, witnessed someone say that Harper had run away.

Harper was becoming visibly tired, and although people called 911, Castellanos knew if he didn’t take action something terrible was going to happen.

“I knew if someone didn’t do something soon, we were all going to witness the death of someone’s loving pet as it didn’t look like she would last much longer,” he wrote on Instagram.

Castellanos, a graduate of SUNY Maritime College with knowledge of ocean survival skills, began to look for a flotation device. After he secured a life vest, he strategized how he would bring Harper to safety. He had to consider the water temperature, the current, fishing lines, pilings, and of course the unpredictability of Harper.

“There was a grand cheer when I entered the water,” Castellanos told The Dodo. “After that, I was no longer focused on the crowds and my surroundings but focused on my breathing and swimming over to Harper. The crowds went mute during my swim. I’m sure they were still cheering, but I could not hear anything other than the water.”

The SUNY Maritime College graduate struggled to catch Harper, as she became nervous she lunged at Castellanos and caught him on his face.

Finally, Castellanos was able to grab Harper and swim with her back to shore.

Both needed medical attention, but will be OK.

“Her paws are in rough shape, so she will need some trendy boots for a few weeks, but otherwise she’s in great spirits,” O’Donnell said.

Gabe Castellanos was out celebrating his birthday when he along with hundreds of others watched as Harper jumped into the river.

He could have stood by and watched like everyone else, but he knew if someone didn’t act first, everyone would witness a death.

Pass this article on to recognize Gabe as a true hero.