April 22, 2021

Lost Autistic Toddler Was Found Taken Care Of By Family’s Dog

They might not be able to talk to us, but their actions definitely speak a lot, and their compassion and gratefulness are shown in their eyes!

A missing 3-year-old autistic Florida boy was found safe and sound after being guarded by his family’s pooches.

Marshal Butler, a non-communicative autistic, child wandered off from his family’s home Wednesday in Ponce de Leon, Florida, prompting a neighborhood search.

The local police department put out a message on Facebook that the boy had last been seen wearing only a diaper, and that a search party was being assembled that included a K9 team.

Local news affiliate WJHG/WECP reported that members of the Walton County, Holmes County, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation were all a part of the team looking for Marshal, who is autistic and non-verbal.

Image credits: Walton County Sheriff, Michael A. Adkinson, Jr.

“We were panicked,” Kayla Stewart, Butler’s aunt, told local NBC affiliate WJHG. “All sorts of worst-case scenarios are running through their heads.”

The family, along with neighbors, local and country police, as well as officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission searched for Marshal for several hours before finding him a mile away near a river, unharmed and flanked by the family dogs, Buckwheat and Nala.

Little Marshal is autistic and can’t speak, which could’ve made the search even more difficult

Image credits: Walton County Sheriff, Michael A. Adkinson, Jr.

But he was found later that same day, thanks to his loyal dogs

Image credits: Walton County Sheriff, Michael A. Adkinson, Jr.

“Both of his dogs were right there with him. … [We’re] thankful that the pups kind of guided him along. I guess they kept him safe,” a neighbor told the TV station.

Image credits: WJHG

Image credits: Walton County Sheriff, Michael A. Adkinson, Jr.

Both the neighbors, who quickly split up and searched the area, and the sheriff’s department, which posted about the case on Facebook, were trying to find the toddler. “Our expectations going into a search of that magnitude are always to get as many agency members on the ground as possible to aid in the search,” Corey Dobridnia, the Public Information Officer at the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, told Bored Panda. “Minutes are precious when it comes to the search of a child.”

Neighbor Carol Shelton saw the boy later that afternoon about a mile away from his home. And I wouldn’t even call it a miracle, rather, an outcome that Marshal’s very earthly guardian angels ensured. Throughout it all, Nala and Buckwheat were by the toddler’s side. “[His] dogs were right there with him,” the neighbor recalled. “[We’re] thankful that the pups kind of guided him along, I guess they kept him safe.”

Dobridnia said everyone at the Sheriff’s Office are grateful for the family friend who was able to locate the child, adding that one of their captains was able to bring the child back to his mother.

“Marshal was in good spirits when found. A little dirty from the walk through the woods, but unharmed and happy,” Dobridnia added. “Dogs are loyal creatures. I feel like they probably knew to stay with him when they saw he was alone. Their instincts kicked in. They stayed with the boy and watched over him until he was located.”

Marshal’s family were beyond happy to see their precious little boy back home safe. They were also very proud of their canine family members. “They’re doing their job,” the boy’s mom said.

Facebook was really happy to learn about the happy ending