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A month after Hurricane Dorian, a miracle is pulled from the rubble by Big Dog Ranch Rescue

The Palm Beach Post logo The Palm Beach Post 10/4/2019 By Wendy Rhodes, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
Miracle takes a few nibbles of food Friday afternoon at Big Dog Ranch Rescue. He was found emaciated and dehydrated in the Bahamas over a month after Hurricane Dorian wreaked devastation on the small town of Marsh Harbor. [WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com] © WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com/The Palm Beach Post, Fla./TNS Miracle takes a few nibbles of food Friday afternoon at Big Dog Ranch Rescue. He was found emaciated and dehydrated in the Bahamas over a month after Hurricane Dorian wreaked devastation on the small town of Marsh Harbor. [WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com]

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES - Rescue workers did not see him — nobody did.

They couldn't hear the little dog either — starving, dehydrated, too weak to even whine.

He was buried, trapped in the rubble under a broken air-conditioner amid piles of debris that lay sad testament to the strength of the Category 5 hurricane that in September virtually destroyed Marsh Harbor in in the Abacos.

Miracle was pulled from the rubble Friday in the Bahamas, a month after Hurricane Dorian. He was flown within hours to big Dog Ranch Rescue, where he will stay until his owners are located or he can be adopted. [WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com] © WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com/The Palm Beach Post, Fla./TNS Miracle was pulled from the rubble Friday in the Bahamas, a month after Hurricane Dorian. He was flown within hours to big Dog Ranch Rescue, where he will stay until his owners are located or he can be adopted. [WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com]

There were still people to be found, possible survivors of the 600 still missing. In the midst of such widespread and heartbreaking loss, the needs of animals often come last.

a woman holding a dog: Miracle was found, barely alive, by a heat-seeking, infrared drone from Douglas Thron Aerial Cinematography Friday morning in the Bahamas. He was flown to Big Dog Ranch Rescue for rehabilitation. [WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com] © WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com/The Palm Beach Post, Fla./TNS Miracle was found, barely alive, by a heat-seeking, infrared drone from Douglas Thron Aerial Cinematography Friday morning in the Bahamas. He was flown to Big Dog Ranch Rescue for rehabilitation. [WENDY RHODES/palmbeachpost.com]

But against all odds, Friday morning around 9:30 a.m. — more than a month after Hurricane Dorian blew through with unprecedented fury — the little dog was found.

By a drone.

Workers from Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves waded through broken appliances, sharp nails and glass until they reached the location where the drone detected a tiny patch of heat.

They were just in time.

"There was a dead dog next to him that didn't make it," said Big Dog founder Lauree Simmons through tears. "It's amazing he's still wagging his tail."

But he was alive. Maybe not exactly wagging his tail, but at least swishing it a little.

The little dog's head looked huge on his skeletal frame. He was emaciated, starving, dehydrated, lethargic.

He was too weak to stand. Rescuers picked him up and rushed him to the makeshift pet trauma unit located where the Bahamas Humane Society used to stand. They gave him an antibiotic injection and a bit of water. He was in bad shape.

"I said 'We've got to get this dog out of here now,"' Simmons said.

Simmons had the dog rushed to a chartered plane. She was fearful he would not make it to Florida, but she was more fearful he would die in pain among the ruins.

A few hours later, he arrived at Big Dog, weak, but alive. Silent, not making a sound, watching with dull eyes the commotion around him.

"He's nothing but skin and bones," Simmons said, gently cradling his paw and stroking his head near his sunken eye sockets. "It's a miracle he survived."

And so Miracle was christened, surrounded by veterinarians, staff, Simmons. and a lot of love.

Not long after an IV was secured just above his paw, he lifted his heavy head and nibbled a tiny bite of food.

There was not a dry eye in the house.

Miracle is the 138th dog to be rescued from the Bahamas by Big Dog since Hurricane Dorian.

Twelve flights have brought back 90 dogs, about 40 of which have been reunited with their owners, and about 50 of which are still searching for forever homes.

Big Dog is the largest, cage-free, no-kill dog rescue shelter in the United States. But as big as they are, they are not big enough to tackle the immense problems for animals in the Bahamas.

"It's not over," Simmons said of the ongoing need for resources in the Bahamas. "People need help. Animals need help. There are so many piles of debris from torn down houses, and animals are hiding under it because they are so scared."

Bahamians, rescue workers and volunteers are working day and night with heavy equipment to clear millions of tons of refuse left in Dorian's wake.

While that may sound like a step in the right direction, it spells disaster for any animals still buried under the debris, undetected, weak from subsisting on little but rainwater, Simmons said.

Because no one knows they are there, they can easily be crushed.

"The bulldozers are coming," she says over and over, her voice cracking and her eyes welled with tears. "They're bulldozing everything."

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©2019 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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