FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - More than 150 dogs and cats saved after Hurricane Dorian swept through the Bahamas were flown to South Florida, marking the beginning of a new future for these animals in search of permanent homes.
7News cameras captured the plane that brought the animals’ flight from Freeport, Grand Bahama, moments after it touched down at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Wednesday.
For the volunteers behind the undertaking, this was an emotional day.
“You are very happy about the ones you saved, and you’re very unhappy about the ones you missed,” said Ric Browde, president and CEO of the nonprofit Wings of Rescue.
Various groups worked together to rescue nearly 70 dogs and 86 cats. The animals were the only survivors at the Humane Society of Grand Bahama.
As the Category 5 storm hit the country, five staff members and a volunteer risked their lives as they stayed behind to take care of the pets at the shelter.
The staffers did everything they could to save as many animals as possible. Humane Society officials said the water came up to their necks at one point.
“The staff had to crawl up into the attic. They were waiting for help,” said Amy Clough with the Humane Society of Broward County. “Help wasn’t able to come because the storm was still raging for so long, so they eventually tied themselves together and swam out.”
Many dogs and cats died during the hurricane. Volunteers placed the ones that survived in crates and loaded them onto a plane early Wednesday morning.
“It means the world to me. It’s my life’s work. It’s my heart,” said Erin Robbins, Wings of Rescue’s vice president.
A number of organizations were in charge of carrying the animals off the plane once they arrived in Fort Lauderdale.
People from the Humane Society of Broward County and Loving Friends Transport placed the dogs in a van headed to H.A.L.O. No-Kill Rescue in Sebastian, Florida.
Wings of Rescue and Greater Good later flew all the cats to a shelter in New Jersey.
“It’s pretty amazing how they’re banding together, and I just think we as their neighbors need to continue to help them,” said Robbins.
Families will soon be able to adopt these animals rescued from Freeport because of the shelter employees who never lost hope.
“The [Bahamian] people, they’ve been through hell, just plain and simple,” said Browde. “They have watched their colleagues literally die. They’ve watched their families die. They’ve watched their neighbors die. They’ve lost their houses. They’ve lost their possessions, yet they’re there at 8 o’clock in the morning trying to save pets’ lives. Those are heroes.”
The Humane Society of Grand Bahama sustained massive losses during the storm, including computers, equipment, medicines and vans. Officials said it’s going to take them $250,000 to rebuild.
The animals will be up for adoption in the next several weeks.
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