Illinois Family Reunites With Beloved Dog Thought Lost In Devastating Tornado

Brace yourselves, fellow animal lovers (dogs over humans any day, am I right?), because this story isn’t about to go down without a tear in the house. Jon Byler Dann, his wife, and their four young children took to their basement for refuge from the deadly storm that annihilated their hometown of Washington, Ill. The Byler Dann family was safe — but one crucial member of the pack was nowhere to be found.

Their dog Maggie, frightened, refused to leave her crate as the rest of the family rushed to cover, and when Byler Dann was able to emerge from the basement after the storm had wrought its destruction, he discovered that his family’s home had been destroyed entirely. All that remained of 1322 Coventry Drive was the downstairs room that he and his family had been sequestered in. Byler Dann, who had raised 11-year-old Maggie since she was just 4 months, assumed the worst.

Friends and family gathered to help the Byler Danns sort through the debris of once had been their home and belongings. Nearly thirty hours later, a member of the party heard a faint bark emanating from beneath them. They dug and dug through the rubble until they reached Maggie, freezing and injured, wrapped in a piece of torn carpeting, trapped under a block of concrete, but alive.

“Finding [Maggie] was just unreal,” said Byler Dann, who brought his beloved pet to the Teegarden Veterinary Clinic as soon as he could to treat her dislocated hip, “I felt intense relief and elation but also just panic.” Veterinarians from the clinic have reported that Maggie is doing well, and it appears she won’t be in need of surgery. As the story has reached news sources, donations to cover the veterinary costs have poured in from all over the country. Dr. Michael Thomas had estimated the sum would add up somewhere between $600 and $1,000, but the clinic has since received over $3,500 in donations.

“It really says a lot about the generosity of people, and our country,” said Thomas. “We’re getting calls thanks to your story from all over the whole country. It’s amazing, people from Connecticut, New York, all over really — people who have seen the story and want to donate, and we tell them that we’ve got enough for Maggie, but they say just put it towards other patients.” Teegarden is working alongside the American Veterinary Medicine Foundation to assist in raising funds for emergency medical care for other pets who, like Maggie, sustained injuries in the storm. You can donate to the cause here. []