Dog crawls home on broken legs 3 weeks after tornado
Mason, a one-year-old terrier mix, was given up for dead after he was sucked out a garage duing a massive tornado in Birmingham, Ala.
Phil Doster/BJC Animal Control
A furry, friendly canine from Birmingham, Ala., is leaving veterinarians incredulous after the family pet found his way home with two broken legs three weeks after being blown away by a tornado.
Mason, a one-year-old terrier mix, was hiding in his family’s garage in the Birmingham suburb of North Smithfield on April 27, when he was sucked out by the massive tornado that destroyed whole neighbourhoods and killed more than 40 people.
Despite days of desperate searching by his owners, who asked not to be named and are not granting media interviews, Mason was nowhere to be found. With most of the garage destroyed, family members resigned themselves to the likelihood that their four-legged pal did not survive the ordeal.
Then, three weeks later, the family arrived home one day to find their beloved pooch, mouth agape and stumpy tail wagging like crazy, sitting on the front porch.
Fearing their resilient little friend might not be long for the world, the family immediately took Mason to the Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control Shelter.
“He was emaciated and his two front legs were literally flopping below the elbows,” said Phil Doster, adoption and rescue coordinator at Animal Control. “Mason literally had to crawl on his elbows to get back. The little guy had no indication of pain, remarkably. He was just happy to be home.”
Instead of euthanizing the pup, Animal Control contacted the nearby Vulcan Park Animal Care Clinic to see if a surgeon was available to save Mason’s life.
When the clinic heard the remarkable tale of survival, it immediately offered to take X-rays and make an attempt to get Mason healthy again.
“One of our surgeons offered up his services, free of charge, and on Friday Mason underwent three-and-a-half hours of fairly invasive surgery,” recounted Chuck Eagar, a manager and veterinarian technician at Vulcan Park Animal Clinic.
“He’s got two mental plates and several pins in his legs, but he’s doing great. He’s eating and drinking well. He’s got a lot of heart and a great personality.”
No one has any idea how far Mason had to crawl to get home, but rescuers suspect it was probably a substantial distance given that the two doors ripped by the tornado from the front of the garage have never been found.
The tornado, which was classified as an EF-4 and had peak winds reaching 305 km/h, killed 41 people and injured another 1,000 as it carved a path of destruction nearly three kilometers wide through heavily populated areas. The storm was part of the largest and most violent tornado outbreak in the history of the United States.
Doster told the Star Mason’s veterinarians were shocked by the dog’s survival, particularly because of the severity of his broken bones.
“Both breaks on his front legs are non-union breaks, meaning they completely broke in half and did not realign,” he said.
Mason is now recovering and learning to get around on his two splints. Eagar says offers of adoption have been coming in from around the world, including Canada and Belize, but the owners have said they want him back.
“It will take him about six weeks to recover so he’ll be with us until then, at which point he’ll be going back to his family,” Eagar told the Star.
He says staff and residents alike are still in awe of the little dog’s remarkable journey.
“This is the most extreme case I’ve seen. Most animals thrown far away with two broken legs would have just crawled up and died. That’s something that’s hard to get over. Mason’s survival is incredible.”