It was a terrifying discovery for the parents of a three-year-old boy when they realized he’d gone missing from his home in Florida.
Marshal Butler, of Ponce de León, who has autism went missing on June 3, 2020 triggering a desperate police search. The toddler was last seen wearing just a diaper and with the two family dogs Nala and Buckwheat, which gave the family only a small comfort.
After hours of searching Marshal was eventually found in the safety of the family dogs who had refused to leave his side, WJHG reported.
The Walton County Sheriff’s office posted an appeal on Facebook for the public to look out for him.
“The child was last seen wearing only a diaper,” the post said, adding that a K9 team has been brought in to help the search.
It was a desperately worrying time for Marshal’s family who knew he wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone he came across because of his autism.
Marshal’s aunt, Kayla Stewart, said the family was “terrified” after learning the toddler had gone missing.
“We were panicked,” she told WJHG. “All sorts of worst case scenarios are running through their heads.”
Thankfully, Marshal was found about a mile away from his home near a river. He was covered in dirt but was otherwise unharmed and with the family dogs who had apparently refused to leave his side.
“Both of his dogs were right there with him,” neighbor, Carol Shelton, said. “[We’re] thankful that the pups kind of guided him along I guess they kept him safe.”
Marshal’s family said they were overjoyed to get Marshal back and were very proud of their two loyal pups who helped to keep him safe.
As Marshal’s mom explained, “They’re doing their job.”
The sheriff’s office shared a post to Facebook to confirm that Marshal had been found safe.
The post, which also revealed that the boy’s dogs had stayed with him, has since gone viral, with more than 3,000 reactions and 1.500 shares.
“So happy to hear he was found safe,” one person wrote. “So awesome the dog was found with him too! He was protecting him the whole time. Dogs are such loving animals!”