On Wednesday night, trains on the J/M/Z line were delayed for nearly two hours as the MTA and NYPD attempted to save a dog that was spotted running on the tracks around the Williamsburg Bridge. The dog, named Jake, was saved just after 11 p.m., and is now safe and sound with his human, Thayer Joyce. But it turns out the search was going on for hours before the trains ground to a halt.
Joyce told Gothamist that her dog had been missing since December 30th, while it was under the care of "a dogsitter from a well-known, insured service... the investigation is ongoing, but I will say he was released from my building without a leash on." (She declined to share the name of the service.) Joyce was not told about the situation until days later while she was still away on the other side of the country. When she returned, she got the word out that her dog was missing, and at 4 p.m. yesterday received a text from a friend that Jake was spotted in the Essex/Delancey station.
"[The friend] was unable to get to him as he was on the train. I rushed over with a few [people] to the subway station, working with the MTA and the NYPD for several hours to try and call Jake out of the tunnels," she told us. "We weren't really sure if he was still there — people thought he had gone deeper into the tunnel, but the MTA said if there was a dog on the tracks, it would be reported.
"So I just sat there and screamed his name into the tunnel like a crazy person. An MTA worker who had sighted Jake around for a few days said he was avoiding the third rail, which was great news. Then we heard on the MTA radio he was on the tracks in front of an active train and my heart stopped."
Video of Jake running along the tracks around 1:30 p.m. was captured by subway rider Jennifer Vanilla, who told us, "It was an average afternoon scene at the Essex St JMZ subway platform, when all of a sudden a man nearby started shouting, 'A dog! A dog! I see a dog!' ... then little gasps started erupting from the platform, as more people got glimpses [a] dog trotting anxiously along the stretch of the Essex St station tracks, underneath the yellow lip of the platform edge. By the time I dialed the Emergency Hotline phone, the operator said they already had someone on the way."
Joyce continued, explaining the group effort that went into saving the dog, which involved the NYPD, the ESU, MTA, people on Instagram, Citizen, NextDoor, Reddit, Facebook, friends and strangers.
We were able to locate him in the tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn on the Williamsburg Bridge tracks. I had a friend positioned on the train, tracking him out the window, two friends on the bridge trying to help call Jake over, one at the station, and multiple passengers of the stopped trains feeding me information directly. At one point, Jake jumped from the train tracks onto the active roadway below and was running against traffic back to Manhattan, where he was chased by police, cornered, eventually resulting in his successful tranquilization by a member of the ESU.
The police picked me up and made sure we got him medical care ASAP. Every police officer and MTA worker I encountered last night was awesome. They all engaged to make sure that Jake could get back to me safely and did whatever they could to keep the situation calm. The people at the Animal Medical Center were incredible; the doctor had already heard about Jake from Instagram and was so kind as she helped him get back on his feet. He appears to only have superficial injuries — he's cut up but expected to recover well and he's now resting at home with plenty of treats.
It was insane. I never imagined this would happen, but I always knew he would come home to me; we're obsessed with each other. Jake was just out trying to find me, and it seemed like all of NYC was trying to find him, which bolsters my faith in the kindness of strangers and humanity in general. Seriously could not have found him without the army of people who jumped in to spread the word and be on the lookout, not to mention the physical and emotional support. I love this dog, and every person who helped me find him.
Nice job, New Yorkers. And if you aren't tearing up yet, here's one last thing: "Jake is a 1 year old Jindo rescued from the Korean meat trade in June 2018. I think he's already had enough excitement for multiple lifetime."