GASSVILLE, Ark. — Every day since a tornado damaged the Harrises' home and their dog's pen, the family has checked to see whether Pongo made it back.
On Friday, nearly three weeks after the storm, he was — hungry but healthy.
"He poked his head out of the dog house," said Tim Harris, husband of Pongo's owner, Katresa Harris. "He was running; he was so excited to see her."
The 9-year-old basset hound and blue heeler mix had been missing since the Feb. 5 tornado devastated the Gassville area. He apparently ran off after the tornado broke open a fence.
The family has been returning to the home, which they are not living in during repairs, to see whether Pongo returned and to put out food. The family also made posters with a picture of Pongo and checked animal shelters.
"I knew he made it," Tim Harris said. "We never gave up on him, that's for sure."
Many animals missing
The Gassville tornado was one of a swarm that killed more than 50 people across the South. And Pongo was one of at least 30 animals in Baxter County reported missing afterward, according to the Humane Society of North Central Arkansas.
Some pets had to fend for themselves for a few days because residents in the storm-ravaged areas weren't allowed to return home immediately, said Rick Day, the society's president.
"As officials straightened things out and made the homes accessible, folks were able to find their pets," Day said. "If anything came out of this, it's that there's a higher awareness of homeless pets and adoptions."