Young people who risked their lives to save an elderly, blind and deaf dog from the River Bann, have earned themselves massive praise from the owner.
Kate Christy (60) said she had been overwhelmed by the kindness of the young people who spotted Barney stranded on the low banks of the Bann.
Portadown lads Luke Somerville (23) with his friend Atila Alcantud (19) were having coffee with some friends on Tuesday afternoon when one of them spotted little Barney - a Lhasa Apso dog,
The dog appeared to be stuck just inches from the water and was unable to climb back up the river bank.
Atila and Luke sprang into action and dashed across the river to Hoys Meadow to get a better vantage point.
“It was blocked off so that part of the river bank was difficult enough to get to,” said Luke, adding they jumped over a gate to get closer.
The pair knew it was going to be dangerous to reach the dog so Luke hung onto a fence and held on to Atila while he stretched out and grabbed little Barney.
“He was so still and clearly scared. Then a short time later he started shaking,” said Luke.
Luke, who works at Jack’s Tattoo’s in Portadown, and Atila are friends from the Elim Church in Portadown.
With their other friends from the church, they went in search of Barney’s owner who had been hunting for her pet since he went missing on Sunday.
Luckily Barney had a collar with his name and Kate’s mobile telephone number on it and rang her with the good news.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Kate. “I thought I had lost him for good.”
Kate, who is originally from the Strabane area but has lived in Portadown for more than 30 years, said she had been walking Barney on Sunday along the Bann River by Shillingtons but he had disappeared.
“I searched the whole town for him but couldn’t find him anywhere,” said Kate who explained that Barney was an elderly dog who was deaf and with cataracts making him partially blind.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call to say he had been found. And they all landed up at my house, two car loads of lovely young boys and girls,” said Kate.
She added: “Young people get a bad rep these days for drinking and doing drugs but they are not all like that. Most young people are decent good people.
“And these young girls and boys were brilliant,” she said.
Luke explained that he and his friends from church regularly hang out at Ground Coffee and some of his friends also dander around the Hoys Meadows area at weekends to see if anyone needs help.
There has been great concern over recent years about the level of drinking and drug taking about young people in that area.
However Luke explains that some from his church go to Hoys Meadows to help young people who may be in difficulty.
“There has been a group from our church which has been down there every Saturday from the start of the year. They’ve saved a few people’s lives ,” he said.