Police Officers help reunite family:
In the aftermath of the tornado, many families found their homes destroyed and their lives turned upside down. For some families, they lost more than just a home, they also lost a member of the family... a household pet. For one family, the news of the devastation came while they were on vacation.
Meagan Alfonso was on vacation with her husband and daughter when they heard that their home on Decatur Drive was destroyed and the two family dogs were most likely killed by the tornado. The two dogs, Prince (a four year old Pit Bull) and Raider (a one year old German Shepard), were in the shed behind the home when the storm struck. Their niece, Teresa Esparoza, was house sitting for the family at the time and watched both dogs by lifted up and away by the funnel clouds.
Meagan Alfonso describes hearing the news "I was most of all in shock, I started crying. All the stuff destroyed could be replaced, but not the animals. They are an important part of our family."
When family members started picking through the rubble of the home, the family dogs were missing and they feared the worse.
On Tuesday after the storm, Esparoza visited the Cumberland County Animal Shelter to see if any of the dogs had been found. To the amazement of Esparoza, waiting for her at the shelter was Prince. After contacting Meagan Alfonso, Prince went home with Esparoza... however, Raider was still missing and the family thought that he would never be coming back.
One week to the day after the storm, while Fayetteville Police Detectives Stig Larson and Glenn House were patrolling the neighborhood along Decatur Drive, they kept noticing a young german shepard returning to the same location. "They had lost everything and we know that dog kept going back to that house for a reason," said Detective House. "We wanted to make sure the family was reunited."
The detectives decided to try and see if they could find out who the dog belonged to and make sure the pet was safe. "We tried to get the dog to come to us, but the dog would keep running away," said Detective Larson. "We contacted animal control, they came out and we tried to corral the dog but he kept getting away. I hopped in my car and followed the dog a couple of blocks until he ran into the woods and out of sight."
Detective House talked with several neighbors living in the area and discovered that Meagan Alfonso had lost Raider in the storm. One of the neighbors called Alfonso, and told detectives that Alfonso was en-route to look for Raider.
Detective Larson drove by Alfonso as she was looking for Raider with her niece, Esporoza. He told them to follow him to the last location where he saw the German Shepard disappear into the woods. Together, the three of them walked into the tree line and started calling for Raider. After walking only 100 yards in; Raider came bounding out, and into the arms of his family.
"It was like something out of the movies," said Alfonso. "Every time I think about it, I cry. He was so happy to see me. It also was so heartwarming to see him reunited with his best friend, Prince. They were just jumping over each other in joy when I brought him home."
For the detectives, they were happy to see the family reunite. "I have a dog, so I know how important a pet can be for the family," said Detective House.
While they wait for the insurance company and contractors to start rebuilding the home, Meagan and her family can start rebuilding the lives now that their beloved pets are home after miraculously surviving the storm.