May 27, 2011— -- Mason, a one-year-old terrier mix, had been hiding inside his family's garage when a tornado barreled through North Smithfield, Ala. on April 27. His owners ran back into the house to take cover. When they emerged, their home had been destroyed. The garage was still intact -- but Mason was gone.
"The garage remained intact but the door came off and the dog was sucked out of the garage," said Dr. Barbara Benhart of Birmingham-Jefferson Country Animal Control.
The owners searched for days but had given up hope. They came back to the site weeks later to sift through the damage -- only to find Mason sitting on what was left of their front porch. Left homeless and without enough resources to take care of the resilient pup, the family called the county animal control office to see if they could help him recover.
The owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, broke down in tears when he realized that they couldn't take care of their beloved pet.
"His front legs were flopping, completely broken, they almost windmilled," said Benhart. "So I asked our director if I could farm out this dog to one of my vet friends and see if we could get someone to help us."
Dr. Bill Lamb of Vulcan Park Animal Care in Birmingham offered to help without hesitation, said Benhart. He took one look at the dog and took him in.
"He was dehydrated, malnourished, about 50 percent of his normal body weight," said Lamb. Once he was able to stabilize Mason, he enlisted the help of two orthopedic surgeons to fix the puppy's legs.
"It took three of us three-and-a-half hours," said Lamb. "Two plates and 17 screws later he had legs."
Though the doctors offered their services free of charge, many people in the Birmingham area have offered donations to cover Mason's medical bills.
"We didn't expect anything," said Lamb. "The donations will go to cover the hardware -- the screws and plates -- and what's left over will go into a general fund for those that still need help."
Now Mason is recovering nicely, according to Lamb. The plan is to keep him at Vulcan Park Animal Care until his owners can take him back.
"He broke down in tears when he found out they could take him home," said Lamb of the owner. "We have it worked out where he is going to be able to go back home when he's healed."
For now, Mason just wants to go back to being a normal puppy.
"He would love to play but we just won't let him," said Lamb. "He's a puppy and he acts like a puppy."
As brave as this hero dog is, there is still one thing that scares him: loud noises.
"After being sucked out of a garage by something that sounds like a freight train," said Lamb. "He does have a little issue with loud noises!"