Two dogs from Fayetteville, NC have been reunited with their family after taking a harrowing ride in the grip of a twister.
Prior to the emotional reunion, Prince and Raider were last seen on April 16th by a house sitter as a tornado picked them up and carried them away. “I looked out, and the shed had just broken off, and I see the dogs up in the air, maybe three feet,” Teresa Esparza said. “I didn’t know what to do. I was really sad.” Huddled next to a refrigerator, Esparza watched helplessly through an opening that was once a wall as the dogs were carried away by violent winds that had already caused the house around her to disintegrate.
The home’s owner, Esparza’s aunt, Meagan Alfonso, was on vacation in Las Vegas with her family when the tornado struck. “The main thing was my dogs,” Megan Alfonso said. “I was really upset about the dogs. The house is replaceable, but my dogs aren’t so I’m thankful we found them.”
Alfonso and her husband quickly returned to Fayettville, where they spent days digging through rubble and searching the area for their lost companions, to no avail. On the Tuesday after the tornado, Esparza visited the Cumberland County Animal Shelter, desperate to find out if anyone had seen the dogs. To her amazement, Prince was safe in the care of the shelter.
“It was like a happy moment right there,” Esparza said. “I really thought they were gone for sure. So knowing that he was there and seeing him good, I was OK.”
Finding Raider was not so easy. It was not until the following Saturday that police Detectives Stig Larson and Glenn House noticed a German shepherd laying in what used to be the living room of the family’s house. They attempted to approach the dog three times without success before it bolted. Animal Control was then called to help capture the traumatized animal.
Despite their best efforts, Raider also managed to narrowly evade capture by animal control, running around the house before disappearing into a nearby forest. Police decided to call Alfonso to the scene to help in the search for Raider. She was only fifty yards into the woods when Raider came bounding into her arms, obviously relieved to see a familiar, loving face.
“It was just like a scene from a movie,” Alfonso said. “When you lose a dog, especially in a tornado, and seeing my house, I didn’t expect them to be alive at all.”
The displaced family will be staying with Alfonso’s in-laws while they pick up the pieces. But material items are the least of their concerns – they say they can handle anything now that their family is whole again. As for the two miraculous dogs who literally rode out the storm – they are doing fine and are settling back into a routine.
“Raider definitely was very sad. He wasn’t eating until he saw Prince, and then everything went great from there,” Alfonso said. “He’s been with Prince since he was a puppy, so seeing them together was amazing. They were biting ears and biting tails and rolling all over the floor. It was just nice to see him back to his old self.”