Dog rescuers travel to Bahamas to make family reunions happen

West Palm Beach business rescues dogs in Bahamas

By Alex Finnie - Reporter, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

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."


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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