Family finds lost dog one week after tornado lifted it away

Posted April 27, 2011

— A Fayetteville family was reunited with their German Shepherd one week after it was picked up and blown away in the tornadoes that ripped through the state April 16.

The Alfonzo family was out of town when they heard the news that their home on Decatur Drive had been demolished and that their two dogs were missing, Meagan Alfonzo said.

"The house is replaceable, but my dogs aren't," Alfonzo said. "They're a big part of our family. We love them very much."

Prince, a 4-year-old pit bull, and Raider, a 1-year-old German Shepherd, were in the shed behind the home when the storm hit.

Teresa Esparza, 14, the Alfonzo couple's niece, was house-sitting at the time and said she watched both dogs get sucked up into the funnel cloud and lifted away.

"The shed like flipped away," Esparza said. "I was really scared because I didn't think I would ever see them again. It was terrifying to know they were going through that."

On the Tuesday after the storm, Esparza visited the Cumberland County Animal Shelter and found Prince there.

But there was no sign of Raider.

Family finds lost dog one week after tornado lifted it away Family finds lost dog one week after tornado lifted it away

One week to the day after the storm, two Fayetteville police detectives noticed a dog that kept returning to the site of a demolished home on Decatur Drive.

"Three separate occasions when we'd come by, the dog was in the living room, even though there was no wall," said detective Stig Larson.

When they tried to corral the German Shepherd into the police car, the frightened animal ran away.

"I have a pet at home," said detective Glen House. "Our pet is like another child to us, so we wanted to get the pet back with the owner."

The detectives followed the dog until it disappeared into a wooded area. After talking with neighbors, they learned that the Alfonzo family had lost a German Shepherd in the storm.

They contacted Alfonzo who was out searching for Raider with Esparza. Together, they walked to the tree line and called for Raider.

The dog came limping out from the woods at the site of its owner.

Alfonzo said she was overjoyed to find Raider and to reunite the dog with its best friend Prince.

"Now they get slobber all over me and I don't tell them to stop. (To) see them together was amazing. They're biting ears, biting tails and rolling all over the floor," Alfonzo said.

Raider is nursing a slight injury to his hind leg, but is otherwise okay, Alfonzo said. The family is staying with relatives until they decide what to do next.


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  • marciamal1 Apr 28, 2011

    I am so glad to hear of the happy ending of this story. Its amazing that these dogs knew how to survive after this tragedy.

  • likesanimalsmore Apr 28, 2011

    Phrostbite: seriously... do you think that MAYBE she was feeding the animals?!?! housesitting/dogsitting?

  • Fireflies Rock Apr 28, 2011

    Fantastic story....I have tears in my eyes....nice to hear some good news

  • westernwake1 Apr 28, 2011

    A great story!

  • Phrostbite Apr 28, 2011

    off topic I know...but, what's the point of having a 14yr old house sitter?

  • just my2cents Apr 28, 2011

    Wow! :) great story.

  • nadianboone Apr 28, 2011

    I just cried, the beauty, love, and loyalty of dogs!!!!!

  • Curlyq Apr 28, 2011

    This reminds of the story and movie called Hachi. It is about and Akita that walked his owner to the train station for work in the morning and then met him at 5pm to walk him home. His owner died years later, and Hachi continued to meet his owner each day at the train station even 10 years after his death. This is proof animals have amazing instincts and are smarter than we believe.

  • wp Apr 28, 2011

    Such a great story!

  • Lab mom Apr 28, 2011

    Oh!!!!!! So sweet. What a great story.