There's an urgent real-time plea for aid from the Gulf Coast Humane Society. “Definitely some towels, that would really help a bunch,” said a worker in Ft. Myers on speaker phone.
Big Dog Ranch Rescue is collecting things like dog food, cat food, generators, and is asking the public's help to get pet supplies to Florida's west coast.
A couple from Sunrise heard the pleas for help and brought blankets, covers, and towels. “Once they said they needed help I mean we had all that extra stuff we're not gonna do with this so much will come here," they said.
Viewer Cathy Cook from Loxahatchee donated a crate, which she said was motivated by her memories of the destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew over 30 years ago.
“I actually rescued a dog that somebody had to give up because of the destruction,” Cook remembered.
Having to leave your animal behind is just gut-wrenching for hurricane victims.
“Because the very sad thing is about 47% of people leave their animals behind when they're desperate --in a desperate situation,” said Big Dog Ranch Rescue founder and President Lauree Simmons.
Friday, a 45-foot bus starts its journey to Fort Myers. It's a trip that normally would take about two and half hours but with the impacts of Hurricane Ian, timing is uncertain
“I don't know what we're gonna see between here and there,” said Robin Friedman, Executive Director of Big Dog Ranch Rescue.
“ The Sheriff of Lee County is going to escort us and our first stop is the Gulf Coast Humane Society,” said Simmons.
“It's nerve-racking,” said Friedman.
Big Dog Ranch Rescue is planning additional stops in Sarasota, Manatee, and Collier counties.
“Many of these shelters are not operable at all right now,” Simmons Said. “We'll be going over every couple of days so you can bring supplies here to Big Dog Ranch Rescue.”
“We have more donations we just couldn’t fit it in our trunk so we'll go back in a couple days,” the couple from Sunrise said.
Big Dog Ranch Rescue plans to clear animals already in the shelters on the west coast of Florida when it returns from the mission it started Friday morning.
“We don't know exactly how we're going to get there, or when we're going to arrive, but we know that we have an important mission at hand and we've got to get the supplies over to people. People are in need. Dogs are in need,” said Friedman.
A representative for Big Dog Ranch Rescue said their bus departed for Florida's west coast on Friday morning at 10 a.m. They returned Saturday at about 3 a.m. with 20 dogs from the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers and 12 dogs from the Manatee County rescue.
The bus made several stops to drop off food and supplies. The trip was not easy, as the bus got stuck several times in areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Ian.