We now have the full story of how the cats and dogs drowned at the Humane Society of Grand Bahama. I think it is worth telling. Lessons can be learned.
The executive director of the shelter, Elizabeth Burrows, had believed that the shelter building would keep the flood water out. It was built off the ground and it had proved to be effective in previous storms.
But Hurricane Dorian proved too strong as it moved slowly over the island and pummelled it. The massive storm surge was too high. Water came into the shelter.
Staff were inside at the time. They tried to save the animals by raising their cages higher off the ground. The water rose to chest height.
At that point the staff decided that they had to save themselves and they were forced to abandon the animals. The staff climbed into the attic.
They heard the crying of the animals as the water rose and drowned them. The howling of the dogs and the crying of the cats stopped and there was silence. Two hundred dogs and fifty cats died during those agonising moments.
I am sure that there is a sense of responsibility for the loss of the animals.
It is not appropriate for me at this time to discuss in depth what went wrong. The hurricane was too strong for the building. I’d say one thing (with respect); were the cages opened to release the animals? It would have allowed them to swim and as the waters rose the animals would have been taken towards the attic or through windows. Also, several or many animal shelters on the mainland and one on Outer Banks evacuated their animals ahead of the hurricane.
Some of the cats and dogs were left with the shelter for safe keeping during the hurricane but most where waiting to be adopted.
Some dogs died after the hurricane had receded. Seventy-five dogs and fifty cats survived. The flood destroyed the shelter’s medical supplies, food and their vehicles.
An earlier post: