The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 25, 2013

Tornado upon them, quick choices decided fate

(Continued)

Scott Bagensie's first thought was to pile the animals into the car and try to outrun the tornado. But when he heard that the storm was bearing down on the Warren, he knew that wasn't an option.

Using Milk Bones, Scott easily lured Apollo, a hound-pit bull mix, and Night Song, a shepherd, into the bathroom and closed the door.

The four cats weren't so easy.

At 16, Hunter went docilely into the master bedroom closet, followed by Chaser, Alexander's white Siamese. But twins Jade and Ying Yang, who weighs in at nearly 14 pounds, were under the bed and weren't coming out without a fight, so Bagensie left them to fend for themselves.

Animals as safe as he could make them, he went outside to find debris already swirling in the air. He was starting to panic when he spotted a man waving from a garage two doors down.

"We have room in the shelter," the man shouted. "Come on over here."

Bagensie was the last of the 10 people to get inside. Not five minutes later, everything went dark.

Marianthe Bagensie tried in vain for more than an hour to reach her husband. Finally, she got through.

"The house is gone," he said.

"I don't care," she replied. "You're safe."

When Bagensie made his way through the wreckage to the bathroom, the two dogs were wagging their tails at him. He found Hunter perched on a pile of clothes at the far corner of the closet.

By Tuesday, all were safe and accounted for.

Scott Bagensie says he would do the same thing all over again, "I value my animals that much." Much as she loves them all, Marianthe isn't sure it was worth the risk.

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