Orlando man coaxes pup onto paddleboard in Lake Highland rescue

An Orlando architect can now be considered a type of local superhero, at least to his Lake Highland Park neighbors. 

Patrick Dunleavy was surprised to find FOX 35 reporter, Andrea Lyon, at his door Tuesday afternoon.  First thinking it was the owner of a dog he recently saved from drowning. But no, we wanted to follow up on a very cool photograph, first posted in Orlando’s Bungalower. 

The picture highlighted Dunleavy’s quick-thinking actions to jump on a paddleboard to save the pup, named Kona.

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"I know I couldn’t probably swim that far to start with, let alone her just doggy paddling and she kept getting slower," Dunleavy said it was about 250 feet out to the middle of the lake. 

Patrick Dunleavy-dog-rescue

At Lake Highland’s deepest, it’s about 18 feet, according to Dunleavy.  Looking into the lake, it’s not very transparent. Although, we could see long-slimy weeds dancing just below the surface. And of course, Dunleavy said alligators do live in it too. 

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"Once I got to her, I tried to pull her onto the board but when I couldn’t get her onto the board I hopped into the water, shoes, and everything," he said.

It took about four minutes for Dunleavy to swim back to shore.  Kona, taking a break from doggy paddling, laid on top of the board. 

Brittany Palladino, Dunleavy’s girlfriend, captured the rescue in a series of photos. Those photos are now the talk of Lake Highland Park.


"It was all over the local chatline on our neighborhood text," said Brendan Sweeney. "Right place, right time! The poor doggie fell in the lake," he added. 

"The last thing I wanted to see happen was something bad to that dog," Dunleavy said. 

In the photos, Kona’s smile says it all. Safe and sound on the shore, Kona’s tongue was hanging out, likely knowing she will be okay. 


"She was just so sweet," he said.

Dunleavy walked her to a local veterinarian. They found a chip, and since then, the owners have picked Kona up and brought her back home. Dunleavy, though, said he’d like to know who the family is so he can reunite with Kona to see how she is. 

"We are just hoping we are getting some puppy visits," he said.

If you know Kona’s family, reach out to FOX 35 here.

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