How 50 cats and 220 dogs drowned inside Bahamas animal shelter

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.

Humane Society of Grand Bahama
Humane Society of Grand Bahama
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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.

Vehicle under water
Vehicle under water during the hurricane. Screenshot from CNN video.
Humane Society of Grand Bahama after the hurricane
Humane Society of Grand Bahama after the hurricane. Screenshot from CNN video

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:

Hurricane Dorian tragedy: 6 brave souls are trapped inside the Humane Society of Grand Bahama with dogs and cats

8 thoughts on “How 50 cats and 220 dogs drowned inside Bahamas animal shelter”

  1. Michael Broad writes, “I am sure that there is a sense of responsibility for the loss of the animals.” What a stupid thing to say. WHY WOULD YOU ASSUME THAT? These slovenly people couldn’t even be bothered to give the animals any kind of a chance by opening their cages!!

  2. Elizabeth Burrows, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Grand Bahamas should have gone down with the ship. She should have freed the animals and at least let them take their chances. But to ABANDON them, and then listen as their screaming and howling slowly died as they drowned frantically scrambling for air in their cages is CRIMINAL. Charges should be brought and accountability brought to bear on ALL the workers. These animals were entrusted to their care!

    • Thanks for commenting and expressing your feelings about this tragedy. I didn’t want to be too harsh in criticising but if an inquest were to be held on what went wrong, the managers would have to agree that they screwed up big time. And their poor decision making cost the lives of many dogs and cats.

  3. The staff climbed into the attic – why did they do so alone?

    It makes no sense why the staff didn’t *first* load as many of their charges, the animals, into the attic as possible, and then move the larger, stronger dogs who couldn’t fit outside of the building so they could at least have a good chance at survival by swimming and / or staying on the building roof until rescue arrived.

    Shame on them!

    • I think they coold have done a lot more in terms of evacuating the cats and dogs before the hurricane’s arrival and then if as happened they were trapped they could have released them all and got them into the attic or at least some of them although it must have been very difficult.

    • AMEN!! Load them on the roof. Or better yet, EVACUATE before the storm since these people had plenty of warning in advance! THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THESE MURDERS.


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