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K-State Today

September 20, 2011

Greensburg tornado survivor to speak on animal safety during natural disasters

By Nancy Peterson

As most in Kansas -- and many from all over the world -- will know, on May 4, 2007, an EF5 tornado nearly obliterated Greensburg, Kan.

While the rebuilding process is ongoing, some much appreciated changes are least expected, said Pam Muntz, a Greensburg resident for 35 years.

On the night of the tornado, Muntz was cleaning up the kitchen after having dinner with her daughter and grandchildren. When the sirens sounded, she urged her daughter to take the children to the basement, and, before joining them, secured Sarah, the family’s cocker spaniel in a wire kennel, which served as her doghouse in the home.  

Sarah was recovering from surgery – she had recently been spayed – and, without time to take apart the kennel and move it to the basement, Muntz thought it the best place for the dog.

After the storm had passed, the family could sense that the home was severely damaged, and without knowing the extent of the damage, Muntz’ daughter, Mary, ventured up the stairs, fearing that Sarah could not have survived.

While the upper level of the home was destroyed, the winds had ripped the coatrack - with coats and jackets - from the wall and blown it over the kennel.

“The coats protected Sarah from flying glass and debris,” Muntz said.

“Our family is lucky to still have Sarah, and we appreciate her more than ever. Though never one to whine or bark before the tornado, Sarah is now quick to alert the family to any storm activity,” Muntz said.

Muntz will be a featured speaker at “Natural Disasters: What about the Animals?” The conference is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24 at the K-State Student Union. It will be simulcast at K-State Olathe and  webcast at http://ome.ksu.edu/webcast/human-animal-bond/.

The conference is free, though preregistration is required in Manhattan to ensure an adequate supply of conference materials. More information is available at K-State Research and Extension offices throughout the state and online at www.vet.ksu.edu/CE/Conference.htm.  

The conference will offer tips on keeping the family, its pets and other animals safe – and together – when disaster strikes, and is sponsored by K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, K-State Research and Extension, and eXtension, a national effort to support educational outreach.