Dog rescuers travel to Bahamas to make family reunions happen

West Palm Beach business rescues dogs in Bahamas

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – While Bahamian officials say at least 50 people are dead and 1,300 people vanished during Hurricane Dorian, some survivors are still searching for their dogs. 

The Big Dog Ranch Rescue force in Loxahatchee Groves is on a mission to reunite lost dogs with their families. Kathleen Gartlan, of Marsh Harbor, said she was heartbroken without her dogs.

"I went on social media and Big Dog Ranch Rescue's Lauree [Simmons] came to my aid and said, 'We will do anything, anything for you to get those dogs back,'" Gartlan said. "I had been calling people asking for help."

Simmons, the founder of the Big Dog Ranch Rescue, chartered a flight on Friday morning and went to work in Marsh Harbor, a town in Abaco Islands that was devastated by the Category 5 storm with 185 mph winds. 

"There are so many dogs over there on streets with collars on, and we want to go back," Simmons said. "We are going to go back many times. We wish we had more time."

Simmons and her team were racing against the inclement weather coming to the Bahamas this weekend. For now, her team was able to rescue Borders, Scrappy, Skippy, Roxie and Blackie.

Gartlan was reunited with two of her three dogs. The other dog is alive and ran away out of fear. Simmons promised the team will try to rescue her dog again. 

"I understand that people were terrified. What happened over there is like a bomb went off," Simmons said. "It's just unrecognizable. It's so sad."

❤️🐾 Surviving the Storm 🐾❤️ Do you need a feel good story? One to make you say awww, this is wonderful? Do you love seeing people reunited with their pups? Well, do we have the story for you!!! Many of us saw the gut wrenching photo of a young woman carrying her two dogs through rushing flood waters, during Hurricane Dorian. We applauded her, cried for her and the pups, but also wondered what happened to them? The other day, we were contacted about person hoping to be reunited with her dog, a labradoodle named Emma, who was stuck in the Bahamas. After finding out the location, we reached out to all of our hurricane relief partners to see if they could help us. Our very own, Lauree Simmons got in touch with Chef & Humanitarian, Ingrid Hoffman. Ingrid has been on the ground in the Bahamas, nonstop helping coordinate and deliver immediate aid to the people affected by the storm. Having a plane secured, Lauree and Ingrid worked tirelessly to arrange the transport to BDRR for Emma and 2 other dogs needing rescue! Today, Emma and her mom were reunited at the ranch!!! Imagine our surprise when we found out Emma was the dog in the viral picture?! Wow! You’re probably wondering why they weren’t together during the storm. Well, Emma’s mom was out of town, so Emma stayed with her family in Freeport, Bahamas. Fortunately, all of the family is safe! Many tears have been shed, we may or may not be ugly crying as we write this. Our hearts feel better knowing we helped make a difference in this family’s life. We have been receiving so many requests like these. Every email, call or text is answered. Our team is working nonstop to help as many as we can. Please continue to support our hurricane relief mission. With your continued support, we are able to have more happy tails. ❤️🐾 www.BDRR.org

Posted by Big Dog Ranch Rescue on Wednesday, September 11, 2019


The Big Dog Ranch Rescue is hosting a fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Oceans Allure at 11300 Legacy Ave., Suite 110, in Palm Beach Gardens. For more information, call 561-799-0201 or visit . 

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