Charles Ledford, University of Illinois Published: Nov 19, 2013, 4:10 PM EST


Jon Byler Dann, above, survived the devastating tornado that struck Washington, Ill., by hunkering down in the basement clutching his four children – ages 8, 5, 2½ and 1½. But an important member of the family was still in harm’s way. Before the storm, as debris started to hit his house, Byler Dann had tried to coax the family dog, Maggie, into the safe room. The skittish animal refused to leave her kennel. After the storm passed, Byler Dann emerged from the basement to find that his home of five years had been destroyed above him. Maggie was missing and Byler Dann assumed his beloved pet was dead.


Nearly 30 hours later, while searching through all that was left of 1322 Coventry Drive, family friends heard a faint bark coming from beneath where they were standing.


They immediately started digging and discovered Maggie buried beneath the rubble, wrapped in a piece of carpeting.


 Byler Dann burst into tears. Maggie was shivering, filthy and in obvious pain. But she was alive.



After giving her water, Byler Dann posted her photo to his Facebook page while friends arranged to drive her to a local veterinarian’s office – Teegarden Veterinary Clinic.


Maggie is being treated for a dislocated hip, but is expected to be okay. Byler Dann, 37, has had the 11-year-old dog since she was 4 months old.


“I felt intense relief and elation but also just panic,” Byler Dann says of finding Maggie injured. “I’m very thankful and blessed to have my wife and my children. And finding my dog today was just unreal.” Assistant Editor Allie Goolrick contributed to this report.

Update – The clinic reports: “Maggie is doing good considering everything she has been through. We expect a good prognosis with her. We’re taking donations by calling the clinic (309-444-2311) or mailing to 2323 Eureka Rd., Washington, IL 61571. Maggie’s current needs have been met, but further contributions will go towards other pets that we have been treating here at the clinic as a result of the tornado.”

44 Responses to “Heartwarming Reunion: Illinois Tornado Survivor Finds His Missing Sheltie Buried Alive Under Rubble”

  1. kim sparks

    What a great ending to a horrible situation. So glad she was found alive! I have 2 shelties and 2 cats and would be devastated if something happened to them!

  2. Rosalie Hanks

    Reading this story brought tears of joy to my eyes. Thank God the family is safe and well. (and of course family includes precious Maggie) Prayers on the way for them and all that were affected by tornados.

  3. Denise L. Gray

    Very happy to hear that you found her. May you all find strength and hope in each others love and may your lives get back to some sense of normalcy soon.

  4. Debbie Daniels

    I have two Shelties and protect them with all I have. If something happened to them, a big chunk of my heart would be gone. Praise God that she was found and in relatively good health, AND she will recover.

  5. Maida Farrar

    I can only imagine how Maggie and her daddy felt! God was surely keeping Maggie safe. Bless her heart. I hope and pray she recovers in no time and gets back to her usual health. What a wonderful story. Thank you for telling us about her. Sending my hugs and kisses too.

  6. Jo

    Good advice, to leash & keep them near when weather looks threatening. Once a huge storm hits, lots of pets get so scared they won’t come to us.

  7. Aria's Mommy

    Thank God your family and Maggie are all safe. To share the complete unconditional love that our little fur babies bring to our lives is what changes our lives forever. She is so blessed that you came back to look for her. I can only imagine her little bark after such a long tormented 30 hours. Hugging my little girl and thanking God!

  8. Sullivan

    My heart broke for this man when I first saw the story, but to hear your baby’s cries coming from the rubble, how that must have made his heart soar. I can only imagine how scared and traumatized poor Maggie must have been. I pray for this family and community. The clean up and dig out will be slow, but it is all “stuff” that can be replaced. He has his whole family and that is all that matters.

  9. Ginny Jackson

    There is something about Sheltie’e eyes that have had me under their spell since 1960. This one looks like the first one I had. This is one very lucky dog to have these people in it’s lives. I am so glad all of them survived!!!

  10. Debby

    What a blessing! Wishing you and your family all of the best as you recover from this devastating event! Let us know how we can be of help! Hugs from another sheltie family…

  11. P. Price

    I saw this on the news yesterday & immediately reached down to embrace my little MacKenzie who looks very much like Maggie & thinking that 2-1/2 years ago that could have been us. We live in Joplin & by the Grace of God our home was spared. Once in awhile in midst of someone’s darkest hours there can be miracles & cause for hope & the photo of that pretty little girl Sheltie in Mr. Byler’s arms embodies just that. They have my thoughts & prayers for recovery & healing.

  12. Rapha's mom

    if severe weather approaches I leash my sheltie and keep him near me. if we need to take shelter I need to be able to get him down in the basement. I know my dog would run and hide and it would to be difficult to get him out of his kennel.

    I read that the dog has a displaced hip and that donations poured in from all over, to pay for the vet bills. Money was left over and is going towards treating other animals that were rescued.

  13. Bobbie Pyron

    What an amazing, amazing story. I’m sure Maggie was in shock in those photos, given the extent of her injuries. But no doubt, she was so happy to see her person’s face! I hope they all heal quickly!

  14. Gloria

    I saw this story on NBC national news. There was a split second clip of Jon hugging his dog. I immediately knew it was a sheltie. Hearing his two daughters were ripped from his arms made my heart sink. Knowing in the end his whole family was reunited made may heat leap for joy!

    We all felt his pain… knowing he is safe, with his family and beloved sheltie makes me thank God! Blessings being sent your way from the whole sheltie nation community.

    … and from Laddie, Chance, Logan and myself… a speedy recovery to you and all in your community!

    to all of us… give a special hug to your family today… including your furkids…

  15. Tabitha

    There are no words to describe how Byler Dann must be feeling right now. Such a touching story and happy ending. Tears of happiness are flowing for this family and prayers going out to all the other family’s that were effected by this storm. God bless to all!


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