There’s no denying that Mother Nature has a wicked wrath. She has no problem letting us humans know that she’s in control and there’s really nothing we can do about it. Unfortunately, when Mother Nature decides that it’s time to bring on her fury, people can lose their homes, and even their lives. When she brought an unbelievably destructive tornado to Alabama, there were many lives lost, human and animal alike. Grab your tissues and check out this inspirational story of perseverance and survival.The storm was a mile and a half wide. It ripped through neighborhoods, destroying everything in its path. Even though it was a part of a larger storm system that spanned eight states, which later became known as the “2011 Super Outbreak,” the Tuscaloosa–Birmingham tornado alone killed 65 people and injured 1500 others.
When the storm hit, they all huddled in the garage with their beloved two-year-old terrier mix, Mason. When the storm began to grow more intense, they had to make the decision to go seek cover inside of the home. But with all of the commotion, they weren’t sure if Mason had made it inside with them.
Unfortunately, Mason was nowhere to be found. After searching the remnants of their home, the family had to make one of the hardest decisions of their lives. Their home wasn’t safe so the family needed to leave, without their favorite dog.
Sadly, they couldn’t find their pup. Once the storm was long gone, local animal shelters began to use their resources to help reunite families with their animals. Considering that 1,800 animals had been displaced during the tornado, the shelters had their work cut out for them.
Mason’s family went to all of the shelters to try to find their pup, but unfortunately, he still couldn’t be found. The family was hoping for the best, but couldn’t help but fear the worst.
But a lot of tough decisions needed to be made about the remaining animals, especially with the ones who were injured. “We found a lot of animals with broken feet and broken tails and we lost a few due to internal injuries,” explained Jennifer Bidwell of the temporary shelter of Walker Country.
A few weeks after the tornado, Mason’s family decided that it was time for them to go back to their home to assess the damage. Even though most people would have given up, they had to try one more time to locate Mason. And when they arrived at their home, they received the answer that they were looking for.
Sitting on the remnants of their front porch was Mason! With a wagging tail and a smiling face, Mason had been waiting for his family to return home. His family couldn’t believe that he had survived alone for almost a month!
They finally realized what had happened to their beloved pup. As they were hurrying into the house to escape the storm, Mason had been sucked out of the garage by the tornado winds and carried away. Mason had two broken legs, and was extremely emaciated, but he made his way back home to wait for his family.
They took Mason to the Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control Shelter. They didn’t want to be separated from Mason again, but the family knew that they had to do what was best for the injured pup.
“For an animal just to show up on someone’s porch after all this time was pretty remarkable, especially with the condition he’s in. It was just really sad, but really moving too, that this dog had made his way home on two broken legs,” said the coordinator of the animal shelter, Phil Doster.
“He was emaciated and his two front legs were literally flopping below the elbows. Mason literally had to crawl on his elbows to get back. The little guy had no indication of pain, remarkably,” explained Doster. Despite his condition, Mason was in great spirits. “He was just happy to be home. [His family] did not want to surrender him, but they were doing what they thought was the best thing for Mason,” Doster added.
They agreed to take x-rays of Mason immediately. Once Dr. William D. Lamb, the owner and veterinarian at the Vulcan Park Animal Care facility in Birmingham, realized Mason’s condition, he offered to perform the surgery for free! “He was dehydrated, malnourished, about 50 percent of his normal body weight,” said Dr. Lamb.
So once Dr. Lamb stabilized Mason, he asked two orthopedic surgeons to help with the surgery. The surgery was three-and-a-half hours long and required 17 pins to be placed in Mason’s legs, as well as two metal plates. This type of surgery would normally cost a small fortune, but the clinic decided to do everything free of charge!
“He looks so much better. If all goes well, and he heals normally, we all expect him to be at 100 percent in three or four months down the road, and no one will ever know the difference,” Dr. Lamb explained. Luckily for Mason, there were plenty of people willing to help him feel better.
“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,” said Chuck. Needless to say, Mason was in great hands.
“He’s doing better than expected. He’s doing great, we could not expect anything better. The prognosis is that he’ll have no ill effects whatsoever from the breaks. He’s one of the most remarkable stories we’ve seen. For a dog to go through what he’s gone through and be so resilient and happy as he is, is pretty awesome,” said Doster.
“I’d have been curled up in the fetal position, licking my wounds, waiting to die,” said Dr. Lamb. Mason’s bravery earned him more than just a cool new red cape and praise from his fans.
Stories written by none other than the writers of People magazine! Mason was featured in a Time Inc. book called People: Amazing Pets!, which was about some of the amazing pets that were displaced by the deadly tornado. It’s not surprising, really, considering how amazing Mason really is!
Mason remained in the clinic for four months until his family was able to find a permanent residence. It must have been a relief for the family to know that their family was being taken care of so well while they were doing what they needed to do.
“The real joy in all of this is that Mason is going to be able to return to his original family. It just makes your heart feel good. We’re really excited that the family are going to be able to take him back home,” said Dr. Lamb.
As soon as Dr. Lamb gave the family the green light, they were overcome with emotion. How could it be possible that their dog was put through such a horrific situation, and still be able to come home with them, walking on all fours? Mason really is a survivor!
Unlike so many other animals, Mason made it out alive, but not without a bit of anxiety. “He does have a little issue with loud noises after being sucked out of a garage by something that sounds like a freight train,” said Dr. Lamb. Either way, Mason is an inspiration to us all and we’re so happy that he’s doing so well!