A New York City blind man will get to keep the hero dog that saved his life. Thanks to the outpouring of donations for the blind man, who fell into the subway railroad tracks and was saved by his service dog named Orlando, he will get to keep the animal after it retires.
Cecil Williams was waiting for a subway train in Manhattan on Tuesday, when he fainted and fell onto the railroad tracks.
Luckily for Williams, who is legally blind, his service dog, an 11-year-old black Labrador, sprung into action and jumped in to save his master.
Speaking with reporters at St. Luke’s Hospital, where he is recovering after the incident, Williams says Orlando tried to hold him up, and when he fell, Orlando jumped in after him as the train approached the station.
According to the blind man’s account, he clutched his dog and flattened himself as they both found the spot in the middle of the track to wait for the train to leave.
“When we fell over, he stayed there with me,” Williams said holding Orlando on his lap. “He’s always looking out for me. That’s his job.”
Williams, who suffers from diabetes said his illness combined with his medication could have caused him to pass out at the subway station.
Orlando is retiring in January due to his advanced in age, and Williams thought he would have to give him up when his insurance no longer covers the service.
However, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the school that trained Orlando, said on Wednesday it had received enough private donations to keep Williams and Orlando together.
“The spirit of giving, of Christmas, and all of that – it exists here,” an overwhelmed Williams said.
Anthony Duncan, the first police officer to reach the blind man and his dog, says he is calling Williams, “the miracle man.”
Nearly $80,000 had been raised by Wednesday afternoon on at least two websites created to support the blind man and his dog.
Michelle Brier, a Guiding Eyes spokeswoman, said Orlando’s costs have been fully covered and urged those who still want to make donations to support guide dogs in general to continue to do so.
Williams says Orlando is living out his golden years.
“He’s about 77-years-old. He’s a senior citizen. He’s got some gray hairs. So he’s looking forward to enjoying life now,” the blind man said of the dog that saved his life.