(WBIR - Washington, Illinois) When devastating tornado hit Illinois on Sunday, Jon Byler Dann and his four children managed to escape without any injuries. However, Dann soon realized one member of his family was missing; the family's 11-year-old dog Maggie.
"After it happened and my dog was lost, I didn't feel right,'' Dann told NBC's TODAY. "I felt extreme guilt, and I felt panic, but I really believe it's because she was still alive and in there just waiting for me to find her."
Before the tornado hit, Dann said he tried to coax Maggie into the family's safe room, but she refused to leave her kennel. "She was so scared that she bit my hand and scratched me,'' he said. "I tried to pull her out of her kennel, but she was thrashing and clawing and got out of my arms. Then I saw the debris field was hitting the house and felt a hot wind coming in, so I ran into the bathroom, threw a large amplifier in front of the door, and then (the house) was gone."
Dann was pinned down by bricks and other debris, but first responders and neighbors were able to pull him and his children to safety after they were trapped for about 15 minutes. His wife was not at home at the time because she was at work.
"Every structure in our house was decimated,'' he said. "I didn't know if my kids were alive or not, but after a few seconds, I could hear all four of them individually screaming at me because they were terrified." Although they were scared, Dann's children were fine.
When Dann realized the extent of the damage around him, he believed his beloved pet was dead. Then, nearly 30 hours later, while searching through debris, family friends heard a faint bark coming from beneath where they were standing.
Maggie was trapped under carpeting, insulation and other debris, but was alive.
Dann immediately ran to her and burst into tears. Photographer Charles Ledford, a visual and multimedia journalism professor at the University of Illinois, happened to be on hand to shoot photos of the destruction for The Weather Channel . He managed to captured the moment when Dann hugged the dog he thought his family had lost. "I felt intense relief and elation but also just panic," Dann said. "I'm very thankful and blessed to have my wife and my children. And finding my dog today was just unreal."
Maggie was taken to a local veterinarian hospital. She was treated for a dislocated hip, but her veterinarian says she's doing "quite well" and is eating, drinking and already walking on her injured leg.
Once word of the family's story began to spread, donations for Maggie's care poured in from across the country. The Dann family has received enough money to cover her bills. They're now asking for people to donate to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's disaster relief group which helps pay for the treatment of other animals affected by natural destruction.