Ray’s Ray of Hope – NJ Businessman Andrew Piera Donates to Allow Blind Man Saved by his Guide Dog to Keep it
A 61 year old blind man who was waiting for a subway train in Harlem Tuesday owes his life to his guide dog who burrowed down with him in a rut while 2 cars of the approaching train ran over both of them.
What’s even more heartwarming was the outpouring of generosity of a couple of people, one of whom is a New Jersey businessman - who found out that the blind man, due to some insurance regulations, wouldn’t have been able to keep the dog despite that harrowing experience.
To separate the two, especially after the life-altering event, would have been inhumane.
But according to the following story, Andrew Piera, of New Jersey trucking firm Blue Star Transportation, stepped up and agreed to pay for the dog’s expenses for the rest of its life.
A pre-Christmas subway miracle that saved the life of a blind man and his guide dog in Harlem on Tuesday was followed a day later by the gift of a lifetime.
Cecil Williams will now be able to keep Orlando — the loyal dog that stood by him and dodged death along with him when he fell onto the tracks at the 125th St. A-train station — thanks to two donors who were inspired by the remarkable tale of survival.
“The spirit of Christmas exists here, it’s in New York!” an emotional Williams told reporters moments after he learned Wednesday that he won’t have to put Orlando up for adoption.
The black Labrador retriever turns 11 next month, and will be retiring after serving Williams since 2006.
Williams, 61, of Brooklyn, will be getting a new guide dog. He had been faced with having to part with Orlando because his insurance company won’t cover a non-service dog, and he can’t afford a pet.
But New Jersey businessman Andrew Piera, 48, a married father of two and a dog lover, volunteered to pay for all of Orlando’s expenses — for the rest of the Lab’s life.
And Williams, who survived his harrowing ordeal by laying in the trough between the rails along with his loyal pooch as an A train passed over them, got a call from an official at the Animal Medical Center, where Orlando will be given free care.
Piera, who runs a trucking firm, Blue Star Transportation, was touched by Orlando’s loyalty. “He’s worked hard all his life, and now he should be covered with hugs and kisses and tummy rubs,” Piera, who has a schnauzer named Fritz, told the Daily News. “Those two should be able to stay together — I don’t care what it costs ... I hope they have a Merry Christmas.”
Williams, a diabetic, grew dizzy, fainted and ultimately fell onto the tracks on Tuesday, despite Orlando’s efforts to keep him away from the platform edge.
As a train roared into the station, transit flagman Larmont Smith yelled for Williams, who was dazed but had Orlando at his side, to lie between the rails. The two ducked down in the nick of time, and were not hit by the train.
“Orlando stayed down there with me. He was licking my face. He was there for me,” Williams said, petting the dog as he spoke.
"Guide dogs serve a purpose, and they are very loyal and they are very good," he said as he fought to keep his voice steady.
"(Orlando) is always there for me, he drives me through the sidewalks, he gets me across the streets, he's always looking out for me, that's his job.”
Williams was paired with Orlando through Guiding Eyes for the Blind. All of the group’s funding comes from donations. Those wishing to donate can visit guidingeyes.com.
Great story about an amazing dog, and an equally amazing man - realizing the special bond that exists between one man and his pet - allowing them to remain together.
Orlando and Andrew Piera of Blue Star Trucking – Today’s Ray’s Ray of Hope!