Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Trying to bring Hanah home

hannahIs it possible that a lost animal could make it from Joplin, Missouri to Minden? One survivor of Joplin's tornado said when she thinks about the book *The Incredible Journey, she knows anything is possible.

A nation-wide search is under way to "Bring Hanah Home." Hanah is a five-year-old White American Bulldog that was literally sucked out of her owner's arms during the EF5 tornado that devastated Joplin on May 22.

"The last time I saw her, the tornado was taking her down the hallway of our house," said Hanah's owner, Kari Wilkes.

The day of the tornado started out as a normal day, Wilkes said. Her husband was out of town, and she was home with her two dogs.

"I could hear that rolling thunder," she said. "We would get a rain drop here and there, but the sun was still shining."

While watching the television, she saw the wedge of a tornado. Power transformers began to explode and suddenly her electricity was gone.

Looking out her kitchen window, Wilkes could see debris flying.

"I got the dogs into the closet, and then the house just started shaking," she said. "We hunkered down, and I held onto Hanah with one arm and the closet door shut with the other."

In a matter of seconds, she said, the house imploded, the roof flew off and then the closet door was gone ... and so was Hanah.

Back inside the closet, Wilkes hunkered down, and her other dog, Bear-Bear, lay down on top of her.

"Every time I would get my face cleared, I would get another mud mask," she said. "I finally got a sleeping bag and covered up."

The whole episode lasted around 15 minutes. Then the search for Hanah began.

"I know she's alive because the day after the storm, someone took a picture of her about a mile away," Wilkes said. "So we know she was alive at that point. We just don't know what happened to her. There was a second set of storms that came through a couple of days later, and the people at that house said it was the last time they saw her there."

Wilkes' home was totally destroyed, and she feels that if there had been any part of it still standing, Hanah would have found her way back.

"Dogs have a great sense of 'home,'" she said. "But our neighborhood, six blocks long and three miles long was totally destroyed. I didn't even recognize it.

"There's no doubt in my mind that she's alive and well and somebody's taking care of her," Wilkes said.

In the midst of losing her best friend, Wilkes gained another.

Enter Heather Pawluk administrator of http://www.facebook.com/BringHanahHome.

Pawluk, an Indiana resident, saw a Craigslist ad about Hanah.

"I called and talked to Kari's mother-in-law, and just felt compelled to help," Pawluk said. "I didn't know Kari, but ironically, now we'd say we're each other's best friends."

Almost 9,500 Facebook friends are on Hanah's page.

"When you ask more than 9,000 people to look for a white dog, it's amazing how many white dogs you'll find," she said. "But this page has spiraled into not just being about Hanah at this point, we are offering to other families in Joplin – cat and dog owners – if you're still missing your pet or if you've seen someone's pet to let us know. We're more than willing to help these other people."

It's a different aspect than the one Pawluk originally intended.

"But at this point, we just can't turn our backs on these people," she said.

"I didn't even know Heather," Wilkes said. "I tell her she is my guardian angel who just came down and was helping us. People come into your life for a time and a reason."

While odds are that Hanah has not made an incredible journey this far south, Wilkes and Pawluk maintain hope that someone will spot her. Anyone who thinks they may see Hanah, they request a picture be taken with a cell phone and sent to http://www.facebook.com/BringHanahHome, or call 417-529-8088.

* The Incredible Journey, by British born Canadian author Sheila Burnford, is a children's book first published by Hodder & Stoughton in London in 1961. The story is written in a realistic style (the animals do not talk, for example), and tells of the adventure shared by two dogs and a cat as they travel 300 miles through the Canadian wilderness searching for their beloved masters.

Last Updated ( August 29, 2011 )  

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