After the story of a guide dog who tried to save his blind owner from falling onto New York City subway tracks touched hearts across the country, an outpouring of donations appeared Wednesday to have ensured the man can keep his retirement-age canine companion as a pet.
Cecil Williams, 61, fell onto the tracks at Harlem’s 125th Street station Tuesday morning after his service dog Orlando had tried to pull him back from the edge.
Williams fainted, tumbling down onto the tracks, and Orlando jumped after him.
A transit employee yelled at them to duck as an oncoming train approached. One and a half car lengths went over Williams and Orlando, but they escaped with only minor cuts and bruises, CNN reported.
While recovering from the ordeal, Williams told reporters that his insurance company was set to cease funding Orlando’s care because 10-year-old black lab was reaching retirement age, WPIX reported.
“He gets me around and saves my life on a daily basis. If I had the money, I would definitely keep him,” Williams said, according to WPIX.
That’s when an Indiegogo campaign started up in support of Williams’ keeping Orlando, raising more than $55,000 by Wednesday afternoon.
And then another page, this time on GoFundMe, started up too. It had raised more than $28,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Guiding Eyes for the Blind – the nonprofit that trained Orlando and matched him to Williams in 2006 – told the New York Daily News that the organization had received enough donations to allow Williams to keep Orlando.
If Williams is unable to keep both dogs, the family that raised Orlando as a puppy will be happy to take him back, the spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
At a news conference outside the hospital on Wednesday, Williams sang Orlando’s praises, delighting in the news that he’d be able to keep his dog.
“Orlando has been working for eight years, he’s 77 years old, and now he can retire and be a pet. His medical coverage is taken care of as long as he lives and other things will be there for him too,” marveled Williams.
“I’d like to say thank you, but I’m looking for some more words to describe how it feels … it’s a blessing, a miracle.”