"John Byrne doesn’t claim to possess much in life — he has been homeless for more than two decades and has no job — but at least he has his pets, his beloved possessions: two dogs and Barney, his bunny.
John and his animals are well-known in Dublin and children often stop to pet the dogs and rabbit when they see John begging on O’Connell Bridge.
The 38-year-old homeless man made headlines recently when he jumped from the bridge into the River Liffey, which runs through the heart of Dublin, to rescue Barney. The rabbit had been grabbed by his ears and thrown into the river by a passing teenager, who thought it would be something of a lark.
Without hesitation, John Byrne jumped from the bridge into the cold waters of the river to rescue his pet. He struggled to reach a small platform at the base of one of the bridge’s pillars and managed to stay there for more than a half hour until a rescue boat came by to take them to safety, cheered along by throngs of onlookers.
John’s heroic and kind deed earned him the annual “Compassionate Citizen Award” which was presented to him in a ceremony a few days later on the very same bridge by John Carmody of ARAN (Animal Rights Action Network).."
Here is a touching video of the news coverage of the dramatic rabbit rescue: