SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - When Spc. Jacob Montgomery moved to Washington, Ill., from Champaign six months ago to accept a promotion in his civilian job, he got a pit bull puppy as a companion.
But the pup, Dexter, and Montgomery were violently separated on Nov. 17 when a devastating tornado ripped through Washington and completely destroyed Montgomery's third-floor apartment.
Although Montgomery looked through the wreckage of his apartment several times since the tornado, Dexter was nowhere to be found. But on Tuesday, Montgomery got a Facebook note on his smart phone from a neighbor.
"He said 'I've got your dog right here.'" After nine days, Dexter was found under the rubble near where the apartment used to be.
"The vet said he has no real injuries - just a few scrapes and cuts. He was malnourished, but he's going to be fine." Montgomery and his neighbors found a powerful new ally in their search for pets and property after the tornado. "We are all networked together," he said.
Montgomery's neighbor had been searching for his cat with an animal rescue organization, Rescuing Animals in Need (RAIN) of Central Illinois, when they came across Dexter partly buried in rubble.
They coaxed the 6-month-old puppy out of the rubble with hot dogs.
The neighbor knew right away whose dog it was because of the pictures Montgomery had posted on social media. "As soon as I heard, I went straight there," he said. "As soon as Dexter saw me, his tail started going."
"As a National Guardsman, you train to respond to emergencies all the time, but I never really had it happen to me," said Montgomery, who has been a military police officer with the Illinois Army National Guard for more than five years and is a member of the 333rd Military Police Co. of Freeport.
"I am lucky. All I had in my apartment is gone, but my dog was all I really had to worry about," he said. Montgomery is staying with a friend near Peoria until he can find a new apartment for him and Dexter.