GIRARD, Ill.— The Chet Rhodes family considers their pet, Patch, to be a miracle dog after he survived a recent tornado. Patch was caught up in the EF3 tornado on April 19 that severely damaged more than 22 structures in Girard, demolishing five homes.
“My wife, Andrea, and our other four dogs rode out the storm in the basement, but Patch has always been shy about being in the house,” Chet Rhodes said about the evening of April 19.
The Rhodes’ home, located on Neff Road, northwest of Girard, is a combination of an older one-story home with a new second-story addition, situated on 10 acres with 100 trees.
“After the tornado passed, we came out to survey the damages, and saw all our fencing gone, all 100 trees down, part of our roof gone, siding missing and all the dog kennels, doghouses and Patch gone,” Rhodes said. By Maggie Borman. The (Alton) Telegraph.
The couple spent the rest of the evening walking the debris field and calling for Patch.
“We found bits and pieces of the dog kennels and doghouses along the debris field, but no Patch, and were heartbroken,” he said.
The couple has had the male sheepdog mix for 14 years, he said, having gotten him from the Adopt-A-Pet no-kill animal shelter in Benld.
The next morning, Andrea Rhodes called their veterinarian to alert him to their missing dog, in case anyone called or brought in an injured pet that appeared to have been hurt in the tornado.
Not long after her call, the family was notified that Patch had been found 4 miles from the Rhodes’ home. The man who found their dog, Farley Cole, who actually farms land next to their property, called the vet and related the number of the dog’s rabies tag, which allowed the vet to identify the owners.
“Andrea began to cry, but we didn’t want to get our hopes up in case the dog ended up not being Patch,” Rhodes said.
Cole knew the Rhodes’ neighbor, Lynn Grey, and Grey was the one who took Patch home to the Rhodeses.
“That was pretty emotional,” Chet Rhodes said. “We saw Lynn walking across the fields with Patch, and Andrea got to him first and gave him his first hug. Patch is truly a miracle dog. He had to have been swept up in the tornado but was not injured; he is just a little sore. Maybe now he will come into the house in the next storm.”