Hurricane Dorian caused a storm surge that flooded the Humane Society of Grand Bahama

By Kelli Bender
September 09, 2019 02:48 PM
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

As the Bahamas access the damage left behind by Hurricane Dorian, the storm’s effect on local animal shelters is coming into devastating focus.

According to CNN, the Humane Society of Grand Bahama lost 220 dogs and 50 cats to a storm surge caused by the hurricane, which arrived at the shores of Grand Bahama as a Category 5 storm.

Six shelter workers rode out Hurricane Dorian at the shelter, and did their best to protect the 300 dogs and 100 cats under their care. Unfortunately, even though the humane society was on an elevated foundation and had survived other storms without serious issue, the strength of Dorian caused a storm surge to douse the island, flooding the shelter.

As the waters rose to chest height, the shelter workers, including shelter supervisor Felicia Telfort, tried to elevate all of the animals’ cages to protect them from the overwhelming flooding.

Telfort told CNN that the water levels inside the shelter soon became dangerously high, and the shelter workers had to make the difficult choice to stop their rescue efforts and save themselves.

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The six employees climbed into the shelter’s attic — a space too small for the animals — and waited out the rest of the storm.

The staff survived, but many of the animals, including several pets dropped off at the shelter by evacuating owners, did not make it through the flooding.

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“My heart is broken for the sheltered animals that we lost,” Elizabeth Burrows, executive director of the Humane Society of Grand Bahama, told the outlet. “I feel so bad for the people who entrusted their animals to us and ultimately we couldn’t protect them.”

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Following a few dog deaths after the flooding, the shelter is now caring for 75 dogs and 50 cats with minimal supplies.

Throughout Hurricane Dorian, the shelter kept their followers updated on the storm’s effects on the humane society through Facebook. The shelter has continued these updates, providing animal lovers with information on the supplies they need, where they can donate and the best way to ensure the supplies reach the shelter.

“I want to say we are absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and well wishes from everyone,” the shelter wrote on Facebook on Sept. 7, adding that the shelter is working to pay it forward by offering free pet food to pet owners in the Bahamas who need supplies.

To learn more about the Humane Society of Grand Bahama and how to donate to the shelter, visit their website.

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