Dog rescue collecting pet supplies to aid Ian’s victims


There is an urgent call for help in real time from the Gulf Coast Humane Society. “Certainly towels, that would really help a lot,” a Ft. Myers worker said on speakerphone.

Big Dog Ranch Rescue collects things like dog food, cat food, generators and asks for the public’s help in getting pet supplies to the west coast of Florida.

A couple from Sunrise heard the cries for help and brought blankets, blankets and towels. “Once they said they needed help, I mean we had all this extra stuff that we’re not going to do with this, so much will come here,” they said.

Loxahatchee viewer Cathy Cook donated a crate, which she says was motivated by her memories of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Andrew more than 30 years ago.

“I actually rescued a dog that someone had to abandon because of the destruction,” Cook recalled.

Having to abandon your pet is heartbreaking for the victims of the hurricane.

“Because the saddest thing is about 47% of people abandon their pets when they’re desperate — in desperate straits,” said Big Dog Ranch Rescue Founder and President Lauree Simmons.

On Friday, a 45-foot bus begins its journey to Fort Myers. It’s a trip that would normally take around two and a half hours, but with the impacts of Hurricane Ian, the timing is uncertain.

“I don’t know what we’re going to see between here and there”,said Robin Friedman, executive director of Big Dog Ranch Rescue.

“The Lee County Sheriff will escort us and our first stop is the Gulf Coast Humane Society,” Simmons said.

“It’s annoying,” Friedman said.

Big Dog is planning additional stops in Sarasota, Manatee and Collier counties.

“A lot of these shelters are not operational at all right now,” Simmons said. “We’ll be dropping by every other day so you can bring supplies here to Big Dog Ranch Rescue.”

“We have more donations than we just could fit in our trunk, so we’ll be going back in a few days,” the Sunrise couple said.

Big Dog Ranch Rescue plans to clean up animals already in shelters on Florida’s west coast when it returns from the mission that began Friday morning.

“We don’t know exactly how we’re going to get there, or when we’re going to get there, but we know we have an important mission to do and we need to get supplies to people. People are in need. Dogs are in need,” Friedman said.

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