FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) – Some South Florida-based rescue groups traveled to Great Abaco Island to help animals after Hurricane Dorian destroyed a local shelter.
7News cameras captured Chris Roberts, a founding member of the Abaco shelter, interacting with two dogs roaming the streets on Wednesday afternoon.
âThe boots over there, he just can’t let go,â said Roberts. âGaga is shy. It is soft. He’s one of my favorite dogs here.
âThey are innocent. They have no voice, âsaid Maria Gaspari of Bullies-N-Beyond Rescue.
When the Category 5 storm ravaged Great Abaco and other communities in the Bahamas, it displaced hundreds, if not thousands, of animals.
Dorian also destroyed the tiny Abaco Shelter run by volunteers.
âWe were pretty much where we were at our Phase 1 improvements and then the hurricane came,â said Roberts.
Of the 45 dogs at the shelter, most were evacuated to a nearby warehouse or to foster homes.
âTwo of those dogs died when the homes were destroyed,â Roberts said.
Some of the less socialized dogs remained at the shelter. All but one survived the storm.
Strong winds blew away most of the roof, rocked the enclosures and flattened the chain link fence.
Some of the dogs that remain in the establishment are hiding in the nearby bushes. Others have sought refuge in shaded areas under parts of the overturned fence because they know they can get food and water.
âHow they survived there, I have no idea. I mean, they’re survivors, âRoberts said.
Bullies-N-Beyond Rescue volunteers on Wednesday brought large containers full of dog and cat food to help ease the burden on those running the Abaco shelter and others trying to accommodate pets.
âI have a lot of food that I can get,â said a man who currently feeds nearly 100 cats.
Jennifer Gardner, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said the need to help these dogs and cats is overwhelming.
âOur hope is to reunite these animals with their families,â she said.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has moved to Great Abaco and takes care of lost and sick animals, as well as helping pet owners who are left behind.
“We hope it will only be a quick measure until people can get their feet back on the ground,” Gardner said.
While the task is uphill, the South Florida groups said, the animals will not be abandoned.
âIt’s very heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking, and my heart feels completely for these people. It’s horrible, âsaid Frank Polanco of South Florida Helping Hands.
“They look defeated, you know? They give up. They’re right there, waiting for food and water, and that’s it, “Gaspari said,” so we have to help them somehow. “
Representatives from Bullies-N-Beyond and South Florida Helping Hands said they are gathering the supplies the Abaco shelter needs. They said they were planning to return home and help the shelter volunteers rebuild.
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