Cecil Williams will get to keep his faithful seeing eye dog, Orlando, after public donations poured in to pay for the dog’s food and vet bills for the rest of his life.
Williams, 61, was hospitalized after he lost consciousness and fell onto the tracks of an upcoming subway train at the 125th Street station in New York City on Tuesday. Orlando jumped onto the tracks and licked his master’s face, according to eye witnesses. The conductor of the oncoming train applied his brakes at the last minute but the train rolled over Williams and his dog.
Emergency responders pulled Williams and Orlando from under the train. Williams suffered an injury to his face. Orlando was unhurt.
On Tuesday, an insurance company gave Williams the bad news that the 11-year-old Labrador was too old and would be removed from service (a gentle way of saying euthanized).
The insurance company would not pay for a dog who was out of service. Williams was told he could keep the dog if he came up with the money to pay for the dog’s maintenance. In the meantime Williams’s insurance company would pay for a younger seeing eye dog.
The fund grew to $55,000 by Wednesday. Many donors left comments on the crowd-funding website Indiegogo.
“That dog deserves to be spoiled rotten for the rest of his life,” said Andrew Piera of Blue Star Transportation, who offered to pay for Orlando’s upkeep. “This guy can’t afford it and I can – and it’s Christmas.”
Williams was overwhelmed with the outpouring of public support. “The spirit of giving, Christmas and all that – it exists here. It’s in New York,” said a tearful Williams from his hospital bed on Wednesday.
“I’m not a cry baby or nothing but my eyes are misty. [Orlando] was there,” Williams added. “He’s always with me … He’s always looking out for me. That’s his job.”