Update: After days of bad news, the Humane Society of Grand Bahama has shared two good news. The shelter received a long-awaited offer of donations on Friday and shelter staff found 15 other dogs at the shelter who had survived the storm and were hiding in the back of the Freeport shelter.
“Amazing,” commented executive director Tip Burrows. “We might just need a bigger transport plane.”
AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa
Sissel Mosvold kisses a volunteer who helped save his mother from her flooded home from Hurricane Dorian on the outskirts of Freeport, Bahamas
Courtesy of Sol Relief
The Humane Society of Grand Bahama has received a special delivery of supplies.
FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA – Working around the clock as hurricane-force winds and 15-foot tidal waves raged around them, staff at the Humane Society of Grand Bahama were able to save 74 dogs and 77 cats from ‘a pet shelter on Coral Road that began flooding on Sunday when Hurricane Dorian first made landfall in the islands.
At one point, six workers were sunk up to their necks in the floodwaters, trying to rescue dogs trapped in cages inside the shelter. They feared that all the cats in the shelter would perish because access to the cattery was blocked by debris from the hurricane.
While struggling to save the shelter’s 300 or so animals, five staff members lost their own homes to the hurricane.
“Yesterday was incredibly moving for (the executive director of the Tip Burrows Society) and the staff at the shelter,” the Humane Society of Grand Bahama posted Thursday morning on its Facebook page. “They are managing as best they can in light of all the tragedy and destruction.”
In desperation, the Humane Society posted a plea on its Facebook page on Tuesday: “There is an immediate need for tall boats or tractors to rescue the animals still alive in the shelter. Please call or message Tip but only with help getting these animals out. Please pray.”
Two hours later, the Humane Society forwarded this message: “Lots of cats alive. While waiting for more help to arrive before opening kennels to save them. If anyone is in the area or can make it to the shelter, additional hands / vehicles would be helpful. Please keep animals and rescuers in your prayers. “
At 8:26 a.m. on Tuesday, the Humane Society updated its Facebook page: “At least 75 dogs survived. Rescue efforts will continue tomorrow when it is light. Thank you for the many brave souls who have come to help.”
Not all of the animals in the shelter were rescues. The Humane Society of Grand Bahama was a designated hurricane shelter for the pets of residents who were subject to mandatory evacuation orders.
Keith Cooper was one of those residents. He took his two dogs, Tona and Kelly, and his cat, Boogie, to the shelter and feared the worst when he learned the shelter had been flooded.
As the eye of the hurricane drifted over the Bahamas, Cooper posted this message on his Facebook page:
“Urgent update! We are now in the eye of the storm. The Grand Bahama Humane Society is inundated. All of my pets and others are in serious danger. The manager of the Tip Burrows company tells me they are doing their best. I am so upset right now. Please pray for our pets and the people of Grand Bahama Island. “
It took Cooper two days to get back to Freeport to check on his pets.
“Thank goodness they’re alive!” He posted.
Keith Cooper finds his pets unharmed.
Now that they’ve saved as many shelter animals as possible, Humane Society staff are focused on rescuing pets trapped in homes around Freeport.
“Tip and his hardworking team managed to save a dog from an upstairs bathroom where he was perched on a door and debris for two days,” the Humane Society posted on Facebook. “The owner has been contacted and wept in gratitude upon hearing the news.”
Pet owners in the Bahamas have posted “lost pets” flyers on Facebook pages in hopes they will find their pets.
The Humane Society is making arrangements to transport the animals to Florida, to free up space for shelter for the multitude of lost animals they hope to recover once the floodwaters recede.
“We are close to take-off,” the shelter reported. “Once the permissions are confirmed, we’ll share the details here. All animals will fly at the same time.”
Jacque Petrone, executive director of the nonprofit HALO No-Kill Rescue Shelter in Sebastian, Fla., Coordinates air rescue for the Humane Society of Grand Bahama.
“It’s a miracle Tip and his team survived,” said Petrone. “When the water was rising, they were able to cling to a tractor in neck-deep water so they weren’t swept away by a 15-foot tidal wave.”
The US Department of Agriculture has lifted restrictions on the transport of animals rescued from the Bahamas. And Petrone said Fort Pierce builder Robert Lucas has helped secure planes to transport supplies and fly animals.
“The Humane Society of Grand Bahamas has a donor ready to match donations, no limit given,” she added.
Petrone and the Humane Society have created a GoFundMe page.
“This is our only sanctioned GoFundMe page,” the Humane Society noted.
To date, the page has raised nearly $ 62,000 for supplies to replace those lost in the floods as well as for air travel.
Each flight is expected to cost around $ 2,000. Petrone doesn’t know how many flights will be needed to evacuate all the animals.
See the related story:
Palm Harbor Pet Rescue seeks help with flooded shelter in Bahamas