MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As a twin-engine plane taxied into the National Jets hangar at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Wednesday, volunteers sprang into action to offload some precious cargo — dozens of dogs and cats rescued from the Humane Society of Grand Bahama.
“They’re saved,” said Ric Browde, President of Wings of Rescue which helped rescue the animals.
More than 70 dogs and more than 80 cats are safe in Florida and headed, hopefully, for new homes. The dogs will be taken to a rescue group in Sebastian, Florida, and the cats are being flown to a shelter in New Jersey. They are the lucky survivors of the storm. About 100 dogs and several cats at the Humane Society of Grand Bahama did not survive the storm’s winds and storm surge.
“The fact that anything survived Hurricane Dorian — 36 hours of 200 mile per hour winds — is a miracle,” Browde said.
It was a harrowing time at the shelter during Dorian. Amy Clough, who splits her time between Fort Lauderdale and Grand Bahama and adopted a pet from the shelter, said 5 workers and a volunteer stayed with the animals during the storm and tried to keep them safe. However, the ferocity of the storm led to a desperate fight for survival.
“When the surge hit, water was up to staff’s necks,” Clough said. “That was the last communication.”
Clough can’t imagine what the animals and the workers went through.
“When you hear them howling and crying and there’s nothing you can do to help them, it’s heartbreaking,” she said.
The workers survived. Prior to the storm, the Humane Society of Grand Bahama had 190 dogs and 85 cats. After the storm, 90 dogs and 78 cats remained. Most of them landed in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday. Workers pumped cold air on them and gave them ice cubes to chew on. The animals appear to be healthy although some may struggle with a transition. In fact, the owner of one of the animals loaded up Wednesday died in the hurricane.
Wings of Rescue said they plan to head to Grand Abaco on Thursday to rescue more animals.
For the volunteers from Wings of Rescue, Greater Good and International Fund for Animal Welfare, it’s about giving back to those in need.
“The people in the Bahamas are) all trying to help each other and we just need to help them,” said Erin Robbins, Vice President of Wings of Rescue.
The goal is to make sure that some of the most vulnerable storm victims have a second chance.
“I’m sure all these animals are gonna get great homes,” said Clough.