JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Bahamas is still reeling from Hurricane Dorian and groups across the nation are stepping up and assisting with relief efforts.
One Northeast Florida organization launched an effort, "Nassau helping Nassau," to help both people and animals across the Bahamas.
"This isn't just about animals. It isn't just about people. This is an effort that needs to go hand in hand or hand in paw," said Christina Sutherin, operations director at Nassau Humane Society. "While there's an immediate response, again, this is going to be a long-time recovery. This is going to be going on for the next month, two months. So as these things come in, there will be continued needs for canned food, leashes, harnesses, crates, gas cards, gift cards, so that we can help the animals that are coming into our care, as well as the animals that are going to be taken care of by their owners down there."
Nassau Humane Society's shelter is nearly empty after community support to help clear the shelter before Hurricane Dorian. The organization is now able to help other area agencies, such as Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, clear their shelters, as well.
But it doesn't stop there. In just a few days, the agency will begin to accept animals from the Bahamas. While Nassau Humane Society said it is definitely focused on the animals on the islands, they're also focused on the Bahamians.
"People and pets go hand in hand. There's a human-animal bond that's so incredibly important. And we want to be able to continue to facilitate that for devastated areas and for those animals that were already homeless prior to the storm, get them into places so that this is just something that we can perpetuate and continue and we want other communities to pick this up to," Sutherin said. "One of our priorities is that we don't want any animal to leave that could be potentially reconnected with, and reunited with, its owner. So there will be a little bit longer of a holding time, but they're going to fly down there, take supplies with them. So we are accepting donations of supplies to go and help people who still have their pets, people who don't have homes. This is a people and pets effort that we're putting together here."