John Byrne is a well known and liked man who lives on a bridge in Dublin, Ireland and keeps two pets: a Jack Russell Terrier and a rabbit. They are his companions and rarely leave his side.
One evening an 18 year old man decided to commit a horrible act of animal cruelty by stealing John's rabbit and tossing it into the River Liffey.
John jumped to the rescue of his beloved rabbit named Barney, and risked his life to brave the freezing river. River Liffey is known to be filthy and have very strong currents, claiming lives every year. Miraculously, he managed to save Barney from drowning. After jumping into the water and successfully finding Barney, he had to pump air back into Barney's lungs, and help the rabbit regain consciousness. However, he then became stranded below the bridge. Freezing cold and unable to reach the bank, John had to wait for his own rescue by Dublin firefighters. Half way through the rescue, John is seen scuffling with the rescue team because the rescuers were taking John away from the bridge where his dog was waiting.
When John was asked why he risked his life for Barney and jumped into the Liffey, he said, "Because he is my child, I love him and I just wanted to save him. I didn't think I just jumped."
While the 18-year-old was arrested on charges of public disorder and animal cruelty, John was given an award for his actions. The charity ARAN presented him with the 'compassionate citizen award'.