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A Tornado Blew Away This Brave Dog, Then He Did The Most Unbelievable Thing

2. A Menacing Forecast

The Storm Prediction Center had already been monitoring a severe storm brewing on April 23, and few days before the tornado hit, the SPC issued a warning about widespread damaging winds and a possible tornado categorized at a level of least at EF2. Some people took heed of the warning, but no one anticipated that the tornado would pick up such speed and intensity so rapidly. Unfortunately, many people were caught up in the path of danger, including this adorable pooch.

3. The Surge

4. A Raging Storm

On April 27, 2011, the tornado tore through North Smithfield in Birmingham, Alabama. It struck many households causing grave damage for many families. One such family hid in the garage and huddled together with their dog Mason when the tornado hit the house. When the storm intensified, the family had to dash back into the house to take cover. They had to think quickly but with all the commotion, they couldn’t check whether their two-year-old terrier mix had come inside the house with them or not.

5. The Calm after the Storm

6. No One Gets Left Behind

Mason’s owners feared the worst. They were terrified that he might have died in the storm, but something told them that he was out there somewhere. For several days, the family searched the area as best they could to rescue their beloved Mason. After a few days of no luck, the family had given up hope and assumed that their four-legged friend hadn’t survived the ordeal. They spread the word about poor Mason but preferred to stay anonymous and to steer away from media interviews.

7. Rescue Efforts

8. The Painful Reality

Many pets had been whisked off by the storm too far from home, so their owners assumed they were gone forever. Mason’s family didn’t want to think of the worst, but they were running out of hope. The animal rescue shelters managed to reunite around one-third of the animals with their families, but in other cases time had simply run out. If no one stepped forward after about 10 days, the rescue groups had to put the healthy animals up for adoption or transfer them to other rescue shelters. Mason’s family feared he might have been adopted by another family!

9. Incredible Efforts

10. The After Effects

After several weeks, many of the pets at the temporary shelter, as well as those from Tuscaloosa, were transferred to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. Candie Horsley, the manager at Cullman City Animal Shelter in Alabama said she received about 400 animals. “We have 24 usable kennels in our shelter and 20 foster homes for 107 animals,” Horsley said. “We are packed.” Tuscaloosa’s Metro Animal Control also took in 770 animals that month, but still, Mason was nowhere to be seen.

11. Social Media Outreach

12. No Sign of Mason

Almost a month had passed since the tornado hit and Mason the terrier mix was still missing. His exasperated family was seriously considering giving up on continuing their searches. He wasn’t in any of the shelters, and there had been no sightings of him on the Facebook page. While some people might have moved on with their lives, others consider their pets to be as special as any other family member. Luckily for Mason, his family didn’t give up, and everyone was in for one big surprise.

13. The Last Check

14. The Biggest Surprise

When Mason’s family went back to the house one last time, they were totally gobsmacked when they found their beloved Mason sitting on the battered porch waiting for them! With his mouth agape and his little tail wagging like crazy, it was hard to believe Mason had been missing for so long. Upon closer inspection, the pooch’s family noticed that their poor dog had been through a great ordeal over the last three weeks, which made the reunion even more emotional. When they looked closer at Mason, everything became clear.

15. An Emotional Reunion

16. Sucked In

It turned out that when the family had run back in their house to escape the twister, poor Mason was sucked out of the garage by the tornado and carried away by the strong winds. While most animals or even human beings wouldn’t have survived such force, Mason remained brave and resilient. His two front legs were badly broken from the ordeal, but that didn’t stop Mason from crawling home through the tornado’s wreckage for 17 days until he made it home. He was half is normal weight at just 14 lbs (6.4 kg), severely dehydrated, and his fur was matted and dirty. The question was, would Mason’s resilient spirit get him through this?

17. No Time to Waste

18. The Last Resort

Still homeless and without a means of transportation, Mason’s family had no choice but to call the Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control Shelter. They didn’t want to separate from their precious dog again, but they knew it was for the best for the time being. They had no money to pay for their dog’s extensive medical care and it was clear he was in distress. His legs were completely fractured with severe breaks in both his front paws. He literally had crawled home to get to his family, but that never crushed his spirits. Mason’s owners didn’t know it yet, but this would be the start of something beautiful for both Mason and themselves.

19. The Prognosis

20. A Combined Effort

When Phil Doster examined Mason’s frail state, he decided to contact the nearby Vulcan Park Animal Care Clinic to check if there was a surgeon available to help save Mason’s life. Again, everyone was touched by Mason’s perseverance when they thought about how many miles the poor dog had to crawl with broken legs, even if it wasn’t such a long way. As soon as the clinic heard about Mason’s ordeal and remarkable tale of survival, one of the directors offered to take X-rays of Mason immediately, but that wasn’t all. Mason’s tenacity would touch the heart of someone else.

21. A Miracle in the Making

22. Invasive Surgery

Mason had to undergo an intense and invasive three-and-a-half-hour surgery to fix his legs. It involved placing two metal plates and 17 pins in his legs. This type of surgery and the medical bills for the recovery cost a fortune, but the clinic offered it all free of charge! What’s more, Mason needed to stay at the clinic for feeding, medication and bandage changing to make a full recovery. The whole process would take five weeks, but incredibly, Dr. Lamb again offered the service without charging the family at all. The best part was that Mason was in such good hands and Mason’s story would soon touch the heart of someone else who could help.

23. An Unexpected Friendship

24. Family Visits

Mason the brave dog ended up spending four months at the clinic recovering from surgery until his family could find a new and permanent living situation. In that time, Chuck Eager fell in love with Mason. “I’ve seen dogs who have endured unbelievable hardships but I’ve never seen one who was that injured yet remained so happy and sweet,” he said. He also sent Mason’s family weekly progress reports and encouraged them to visit whenever they could catch a ride to the clinic. “They have a little girl, and Mason is kind of her dog,” Eager told ABC News. “When they see each other, they both go crazy. His whole body wiggles when he sees her. She is so happy to see him, and so sad when they have to leave.”

25. On the Mend

26. A Full Recovery

During his four months at the clinic, Mason gained 4 lbs (1.8 kg) very quickly and received a lot of physical therapy for his legs. Once his bandages and stitches were removed, the vets wrapped and secured his legs in adorable purple casts until it was time for him to go home. Mason even started playing with the other dogs at the clinic and watched baseball games on the TV while sporting a new red cape. “I got it for him because he flew around in the tornado and came through it like Superdog,” declared Phil Doster. Mason would even earn a new title for his courage that would go viral.

27. The Will to Survive

28. Going Viral

Mason’s good spirits and incredible courage in the face of untold adversity earned him the memorable nickname “Mason the Brave Tornado Dog,” which was coined by Chuck Eager who created the Facebook page in Mason’s honor. The remarkable tale garnered Mason over 7,000 followers and much attention in the media. Mason’s story featured on several national news segments and in People magazine for stories that covered pets displaced by the tornado.

29. Home Time

30. Mason the Tornado Dog

Mason’s tale is one of a dozen that touched the hearts of many people. His story was featured in a Time Inc. book called People: Amazing Pets!. The hard-cover magazine-style book was sold at many stores that sell People magazine as the editors of the magazine wrote the book. His story was detailed under the headline “Tougher than a Tornado,” which included accounts from all the vets and volunteers, while Mason’s family wished to remain anonymous throughout his brush with fame. Phil Doster recalled how Mason’s injuries were the most severe for an animal who had survived so long on his own. Doster scanned the areas damaged by the tornadoes several times a week to find as many stranded animals as possible.


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