Animal shelter tells pets' stories of survival after tornado outbreak

Harrowing stories of survival are coming out of Nebraska after multiple EF-3 tornadoes ripped apart entire neighborhoods and separated pets from their families during the severe weather outbreak.

Pet owners may never know what their animals went through to be reunited with their families during the late April tornado outbreak across the Midwest and Plains.

The Nebraska Humane Society temporarily closed adoptions on April 26 after the tornadoes to turn its resources to housing pets displaced by the weather. Dozens of animal rescues have worked across Nebraska to care for pets injured in the storms and reunite them with their families, including Jeanette Hunt Blair Animal Shelter in Blair, Nebraska.


A tornado that caused significant damage in Elkhorn roared through neighborhoods near Blair. Damage surveys by the National Weather Service would later determine the tornado was an EF-3 strength with estimated winds of 165 mph.

Some pets no longer have a home to return to, and as their owners figure out what's next, they may need to find new forever homes.

"We have broken pelvises. We had legs that needed amputated," Executive Director Jenny Eriksen said. "A lot of the animals have gone through quite a bit of trauma here with the tornado that went through Blair."

In the week after the tornadoes, the shelter’s Facebook page constantly posted lost pets, many of whom were reunited with their owners. Some owners searching for their pets discovered the animals did not survive the storm.


A dog and cat receiving care at Blair Animal Shelter in Nebraska after a tornado outbreak. The pets have owners but their homes were destroyed by the EF-3 tornado. (Credit: Jeanette Hunt Blair Animal Shelter)

Eriksen said a local boarding facility took in a dog who was in his kennel when the tornado threw it four blocks away from home. 

"The kennel landed and broke, then the animal got out of the kennel and went back to its home and waited on a mattress for somebody," Eriksen said. 

The popular social media account We Rate Dogs posted the brave pup on X, saying his name is Zeus. During his dramatic flight, he suffered a scraped nose and a few torn toenails. 


The Jeanette Hunt Blair Animal Shelter continues to care for entire fur families as their owners work to determine their next steps. 

RELATED: Watch: Massive tornado crosses Nebraska interstate, residents told to seek shelter

"There's actually four dogs in his little fur family, and they lost their entire home, all their belongings, everything in it," she said of a dog named Sonny. "So right now, they're still trying to work on what their temporary housing is going to look like."

After a disaster, not all temporary housing is pet-friendly. Pets looking for new homes can be found on the rescue's website.

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