An Alabama man credits a dog and her four puppies for helping rescue a 10-year-old boy with Down syndrome who was lost in the woods for 18 hours.
“Those puppies kept him company, they kept him warm and comfortable,” Jamie Swinney of Hackleburg, Ala., told NBC News on Thursday. “We don’t know what would have happened to him had the puppies not been with him. And credit goes to the mother dog for leading me to the boy.”
Kyle Camp went missing from his home about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. After his family failed to locate the boy they called police for help about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to NBC station WAFF-TV.
Word spread fast through the town of about 1,400 residents and at least 150 people left their homes and jobs to look for Kyle, authorities said.
Police say it’s believed that Kyle walked away from home and might have followed the family dog -- and her four puppies in tow – for a mile and half into the woods heavily populated with oak and pine trees.
Teams of volunteers -- flanked by police officers and fire crews from surrounding communities -- searched through neighborhoods, roads and the wooded area behind the boy’s single-story home.
Swinney, owner of Bo’s Restaurant, found the boy wet, shivering and shoeless in a creek about 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Kyle's bare feet were submerged in water and four puppies piled on the boy.
After a young Alabama boy gets lost in the woods, two of his family's puppies manage to find him, and keep him warm overnight, until the mama dog led rescuers to them all the next day. WAFF's Marie Waxel reports.
"I know Jamie dropped everything he was doing to find that child," Swinney's mother, Joan Swinney, told NBC News on Thursday. "He was yelling into the woods for him, 'I'm coming for you, Buddy, I'm coming'. I knew he wouldn't give up finding a friend's child. When he found the child, he was hungry, cold and afraid, and Jamie handed him his Dr. Pepper."
"She's exaggerating a bit," said Jamie Swinney with a chuckle. "I was yelling his name, saying 'I coming for you'. He was in the creek and he was with the puppies.”
"But it wasn't me who should take the credit," Jamie Swinney said.
He said the hunt's unsung hero was the mother of mixed-breed litter.
"I knew if anyone was going to find the boy it was going to be the mother of the puppies and I all I had to do was follow the mother dog," Swinney said. "She had been barking and running along and I took off after her."
Kyle was expected to return home on Thursday after being treated for minor scrapes and bruises at a hospital in Hamilton.
"It's amazing we could all come together like this," Kyle's brother, Chris Bailey. told WAFF-TV. "It was amazing how many people came together to look, because we couldn't have gotten it all on our own. It's just amazing the community is that close to each other.”
Read more: NBC News