Last week, several strong tornados ripped through northern Texas, leaving damage and destruction behind them. The small town of Granbury — about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth — was the hardest hit the night of May 15. Six people lost their lives, and thousands more are now trying to pick up the pieces after losing their homes after an EF-4 tornado raged through Granbury.
Still others, like Granbury resident Jerry Shuttlesworth, spent the days following the storm trying to put their families back together. For Shuttlesworth, who lived in a mobile home destroyed by the deadly tornado, his family is his 6-year-old Bull Terrier mix, Junior.
“I felt the mobile home lift up and set back down,” Shuttleworth tells WFAA-TV. “I grabbed my dog leash. I put it on him, [and] wrapped it around me, and ran in the dryer room.”
Shuttlesworth and Junior had only seconds to hunker down and wait for the impact of the raging storm. “I said, ‘Junior, it’ll be okay.’ And I was praying,” Shuttlesworth tells WTVR CBS 6 News.
All Shuttlesworth could do was hold onto Junior as the tornado slammed into their small home.
“And I don’t know if the trailer flipped,” Shuttlesworth remembers. “I held him and I was praying, and all of a sudden, everything sucked in, crushed in like a can, then blew out, and my dog was gone.”
Shuttlesworth was thrown from the trailer as the tornado passed through. He is unsure what happened to Junior during the impact.
“The only thing I can figure out is I went upside down holding onto him, and he was no more,” he explains.
Shuttlesworth was absolutely heartbroken. Despite suffering his own injuries, including a 2-inch gash in his forehead and three broken bones in his foot, all he could think about was bringing Junior home.
“I just laid there and I prayed for Junior, and I prayed, ‘God, please protect my puppy,” says Shuttlesworth.
Friends of the distraught Shuttlesworth took to social media to spread the word about Junior’s disappearance, taking to Facebook to report Junior missing.
Junior wasn’t the only Granbury dog whose owner was praying for his return; nearly 200 other dogs were separated from their families and found by rescue volunteers in the aftermath of the tornado. Many of the dogs were taken to Fort Worth rescue organizations overnight while volunteers tried to find and contact their worried owners.
It was one of those dedicated volunteers who recognized Junior from the photograph Shuttlesworth’s friends had posted on social media sites. Friday morning Shuttlesworth got the call he’d been hoping for — Junior was alive. After learning his best friend was safe, Shuttlesworth was overcome with emotion, and he hurried to reunite with Junior.
“You could call it a miracle,” Shuttlesworth tells ABC News. “He’s scratched up and a little traumatized, but he’s eating.”
Shuttlesworth has a long way to go before he can get back up on his feet. His home and everything inside was completely destroyed by the tornado. But now that Junior has been found, Shuttlesworth says having his dog back is all that matters.
“He’s my baby,” a grateful Shuttlesworth says of Junior. “I don’t care about anything else.”
If you or someone you know has lost a pet during the north Texas tornadoes, please check out the “Lost & Found Pets from North Texas Tornadoes” Facebook page. A Facebook page has also been started for pet owners in the wake of Sunday and Monday’s Oklahoma tornadoes; check out the “Lost and Found Pets in Oklahoma” Facebook page for more information.