Tornado victim found with dog in her arms

Johanna Hale devoted much her 50 years on this planet to animals of all sizes. She once dreamed of being a cowgirl. Living on a ranch out west with her horses and dogs.

When the devastating tornado struck Joplin, Missouri on May 22, Hale died trying to save her beloved mutt Star.

Hale - one of 59 tornado victims profiled in the Kansas City Star on Saturday - was found nine days after the storm in the rubble of a building, cradling her dog.

In all, 151 people died from tornado-related causes, Hale was the only one confirmed to have perished while trying to save an animal.

The story as reported by the Star (and highlighted on Ohmidog blog) goes like this:

Hale phoned her daughter, stocked up on water and taken her border collie mix, Star, into the bathroom.

They were both in the tub when Star darted out of the bathroom, and out of the house.

Hale ran after her.

Apparently she caught Star and ran into a nearby building for shelter, where her daughter would hear from her, by cell phone, one last time.

She was found nine days later in the rubble of the building, with Star in her arms.

Daughter Miranda Hale told the newspaper that her mother was devoted to animals.

Things were looking up for Johnna Hale, her daughter said. She’d recently received a promotion at work. She’d redecorated her apartment, and seemed happy as her 50th birthday approached (June 15). She’d planned to treat herself to an expensive haircut, and she’d just bought Star a gate to keep her confined on the patio.

“My mom loved animals. She grew up on horses, we always had a cat or a dog around,” Hale told the newspaper. “We always joked about how our animals were better fed than we were. She had a border collie mix named Star, she was about 6-8 years old. I remember when she got her as a puppy and was really excited, she had adopted an older dog that just passed away, and was feeling sad from that.

“Star always slept with Mom, even if I went to visit, she had a full sized bed that the three of us, plus a cat, tried to fit on.

“When they had finally found my mom, they said that Star was in her arms.”