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Jacksonville non-profit's mission of rescuing animals from Bahamas put on hold because of COVID-19

Florida Urgent Rescue planned a rescue mission to the Bahamas in March but the coronavirus canceled what would have been its fifth trip.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It is a labor of love that began last September after Hurricane Dorian destroyed much of the Bahamas.

However, Mike Merrill’s mission trips have stalled. The coronavirus put a stop to rescuing animals. 

"We were planning to do another one in March and that got put on ice. We were thinking by May or June this whole thing would blow over," he told First Coast News.

Merrill is the founder of Florida Urgent Rescue, a Jacksonville non-profit that has flown to the Bahamas four times. By the crate-full, he's brought more than 100 dogs to the United States that needed medical care. 

Because of COVID-19, he doesn’t know when his next trip will be.

“We are trying to look around with private aircraft, possibly that we don’t actually fly there. They just put the animals on the plane and we get them on our end," Merrill explained.

One dog named Silka was found wandering the streets after the hurricane. She was blind, but because of the care she received in the US, she can now see.

Credit: Courtesy: Mike Merrill
Silka was rescued from the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian in 2019. She was blind, but through the work of Florida Urgent Rescue, she regained her eyesight.

“It really is a miracle in my opinion. When we got her we couldn’t even touch her, not safely. We couldn’t handle her. She didn’t trust humans," he said.

Merrill says there are still many great needs in the Bahamas, including rebuilding entire communities. He also says there is a need here for more foster families looking to care for the animals that have either been abandoned or forgotten.

“We continue to rescue dogs locally. We are continuing to support our local shelters. We are going to continue to do what we can as our money permits," he said.

For more information on Florida Urgent Rescue, click here