FREEPORT, Bahamas (WKRG/CNN) — An animal shelter in Freeport lost over 200 dogs and 50 cats in the floodwaters from Hurricane Dorian.
Felicia Telfort is the shelter supervisor, who along with five colleagues tried to keep safe 300 dogs and 100 cats, most of them waiting to be adopted.
Some already had families who had been forced to evacuate. The government-run shelters will not allow pets.
Elizabeth Burrows, executive director of the Humane Society of Grand Bahamas, trusted the building that was built in 2008, which has some elevation to avoid floods.
“And since we didn’t flood in the other storms, we really felt like we felt we might get some water, but we had no idea we would get the flood that we did,” Burrows said.
But the water from the storm surged unexpectedly threatened the lives of the animals. And in spite of the danger to themselves, Felicia and her co-workers desperately tried to save the dogs by keeping the crates above the rising waters.
But with the water rising chest high and their building flooding, they sought shelter
“Making sure that everything would be safe to try and put it up high. We ran up in a manhole because the water started to come up so high,” Felicia said.
The manhole is the access to the attic, which had no stairs. So they had to pull each other up.
“The kennel dogs were still howling and crying. We experienced all of that until they were not even crying anymore,” Felicia said.
That silence represented the death of more than 220 dogs and 50 cats.
“I felt devastated,” Burrows said. “We couldn’t have predicted this but I still feel responsible. My heart is broken for the shelter animals that we lost, and I feel so bad for the people who trusted their animals to us. And ultimately we could not protect them.”
Dorian also destroyed their medical equipment, food, medicine and vehicles. In spite of their near-death experience, Felicia says she doesn’t regret risking her life.
“It wasn’t about us being heroes,” Felicia said. “I was about caring about the animals just as much as we cared about ourselves.”