Joplin, MO– Kari Wilkes posts signs where anyone might possibly see Hanah’s face. She hopes someone has seen her best friend.
“It’s hard to tell where she’s at right now,” says Wilkes. “She could be anywhere. That’s why it’s so important to get her face out there. Everywhere. All over the country because somebody knows something.”
An EF-5 tornado blasted Joplin, MO., on May 22. It killed more than 160 people and flattened everything in its path.
Wilkes rode out the massive tornado in the only safe place in her home: the linen closet. With one hand she held onto the closet door and with the other she held onto her dog. She battled the 200 mph winds with all of her strength.
“It just blew the door right out of my hand and sucked Hanah right out with it,” says Wilkes.
When the killer storm was over, Wilkes pushed her way out of the closet. Her home was completely destroyed.
“If it wasn’t for the tree that fell, the only thing left of my house was the closet I was in,” says Wilkes. “That tree was on top of that closet or otherwise it would have all been gone.”
Wilkes immediately started digging through the rubble to find Hanah, her beloved 110-pound American Bulldog.
“I looked. I hollered. I searched. I just walked around looking for her and I haven’t been able to find her since.”
A few days after the monster tornado, someone saw one of Wilkes’ fliers and sent her this picture.
Hanah was alive.
The caller said he found Hanah about a mile from Wilkes’ home, but a second round of storms was moving in and people in Joplin had to take shelter, yet again.
“911 said just hang tight and an animal control officer will be out to pick her up,” says Wilkes.
In fact, somebody did go pick-up Hanah.
“He said that a black SUV with lights and a logo on the side of the car pulled up and the sirens were going off again that night,” says Wilkes. “As he was walking away, he was leading Hanah to the vehicle and that is the last he saw of her.”
Wilkes has contacted nearly every animal rescue in the country, but no one has seen Hanah.
Now, her calls to the man who sent the picture go unanswered. The number is disconnected.
It’s a mystery. What happened to Hanah?
Wilkes hands out business cards with her information and Hanah’s face. She’s hung hundreds of posters and fliers. She’s created a Facebook page, “Bring Hanah Home.” More than 10,900 have joined the fight to find Hanah. Wilkes hopes the network she’s built will bring her dog home.
“I call them Hanah’s army,” says Wilkes. “It’s amazing. Everyone has come together. They share it. They network. It’s an amazing group of people I’ve never even met that have all come together to try to find her.”
Rescue workers found pets buried alive in the debris days, even weeks, after the tornado.
The Joplin Humane Society took in more than 1,300 animals from the storm and returned about 500 to their owners.
“Finding that pet and getting it back into your life gives you an opportunity to know that there is hope. Things are still going to go forward,” says Tianna Fisher with the Joplin Humane Society.
Wilkes still has hope, but every time she sees a big white dog or a paw print in the mud her heart sinks. She wonders if Hanah will ever come home.
A dog bowl sits in what used to be the garage just in case she does.
“Never, never give up not knowing. I know she’s alive and I’m not ever going to give up,” says Wilkes.
The Wilkes family is offering a $2,500 reward for Hanah with no questions asked.
“I don’t care about the other stuff. That can all be replaced, but Hanah can’t,” says Wilkes.
For more information, go to the ‘Bring Hanah Home’ facebook page.
- Dog friends- PLZ RT for #Hanah! She’s still #missing! White #AmericanBulldog #missing from #Joplin after the tornado. She IS alive! Help! @BringHanahHome PLZ RT! (kissbeep.wordpress.com)
- Such a pretty face! This all white #AmericanBulldog is still #missing from #Joplin after the tornado. She IS alive! Help! @BringHanahHome PLZ RT! (kissbeep.wordpress.com)