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Jacksonville-based nonprofit rescues shelter animals from Southwest Florida

Florida Urgent Rescue has made several trips to relocate the animals to shelters up North.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Some dedicated volunteers will be on their way down to the Fort Myers area soon to rescue pets impacted by the storm.

Florida Urgent Rescue has several teams heading down to rural shelters in Southwest Florida, only to come back with a few dozen pets.

"The thing that a lot of people don't understand is that the danger for the animals doesn't end when the storm passes through," said Florida Urgent Care Founder Mike Merrill.

Merrill started Florida Urgent Rescue - or 'FUR' - seven years ago, and hasn't taken any breaks since.

They've helped relocate animals after 11 major weather events, including nine hurricanes.

It's been just over a week since Hurricane Ian destroyed Southwest Florida, and FUR has already managed to move 85 cats and dogs from overcrowded shelters.

"The stray dogs and cats that come in for shelter from the storm, they have extended holds, so they're tying up a kennel for 30 days," said Merrill. "On top of that, there's a wave of owner surrenders."

Merrill and company are going down again this weekend to pick up another two dozen cats and half a dozen or so dogs.

But, they aren't going empty handed.

"Collectively, a few people bringing a few things adds up to a lot of people bringing a lot of things," said Rosie Hetman-Clemente, who collected donations at her business.

Hetman-Clemente of Atlantic Shores Realty has teamed up with several businesses to collect all kinds of items for families in need - toothpaste, wash cloths, air mattresses.

They stuffed the empty crates with those supplies.

"To know that we're helping them get down there, and they're helping us get the supplies down there is just a beautiful partnership," said Hetman-Clemente.

Merrill will drop of those supplies, then fill the crates with animals to take to shelters in Georgia and New Jersey with more space.

Animals that otherwise would have nowhere else to go.

"It's a relief, but it's a much bigger problem than we can solve," said Merrill.

Click here to find more information on Florida Urgent Rescue.

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