Woman in Bahamas Takes in Nearly 100 Shelter Dogs During Hurricane Dorian
"I only have a one-week supply left to feed everyone."
The Bahamas is reeling from the devastating toll Hurricane Dorian took on the islands over Labor Day weekend. At least five people have been confirmed dead, and as many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed by the Category 5 storm.
Many island residents are trapped, including Chella Phillips. But that didn't stop her from doing some rescuing of her own. Phillips took 97 shelter dogs into her Nassau home during the worst of the storm. "We are safe," Phillips told Best Life on Tuesday afternoon. "But I have no internet service, there's been a lot of flooding inside the house, and the streets are hard to drive any longer."
On Sunday, Phillips put up a Facebook post saying there were 97 dogs inside her house, 79 of which were in her master bedroom. "It has been insane since last night," she wrote, adding that while there have been some accidents here and there, the dogs have been well-behaved on a whole.
The post quickly went viral, gaining more than 50,000 shares in just two days. Phillips shared an update a few hours later, saying all the dogs were getting along well together.
"[They] welcome the newcomers with tail wags because they know they are their brothers and sisters in suffering on the streets," she wrote. "Each of my babies deserve to have loving homes, so please, I am begging for rescues to help them!"
Phillips has been running a refuge for homeless canines called The Voiceless Dogs of Nassau, Bahamas since she first moved to the island in 2005. Since then, she said she has helped get more than 5,000 dogs off of the streets, and sheltered more than 1,000 in her refuge—her own home. "I call it a refuge 'cause they are free to roam inside and out," she said.
The viral Facebook post has given the fundraiser for Phillips' refuge, which she launched earlier in August, a huge boost: It's wildly exceeded its goal of $20,000, raising more than $100,000 at the time of publication. But Phillips also needs people to take in some of the dogs, one of which is due to have puppies any minute. "I pray people will keep donating," she said. "If nobody helps me with the dogs I have, we are all going to have to live on the streets."
Right now, Phillips is most concerned about being able to feed all of the dogs in her home. "I worry now that, because of the tragedy, the dog food distributor will run out of dog food," she said. "I only have a one-week supply left to feed everyone."
"Please know that your money will be spent saving lives, buying food, getting their medical expenses paid, [and] buying them toys so they can know happiness for once in their lives," Phillips wrote in her most recent Facebook update on Tuesday afternoon. "My biggest dream is to be able to buy land to move all my dogs far from the city and to help bring even more that are outside on the streets or hiding in the bushes, terrified of people, without a chance to make it on their own."
And for a reminder of just how much good social media can do in times of crisis like this, read the stories behind these Heartwarming Photos of Pets Reunited with Owners After California Wildfire.
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