To realize your child has gone missing is every parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, this was something three-year-old Marshal Butler’s family had to go through when he disappeared one Wednesday morning.
The autistic toddler reportedly disappeared with the family dogs and was wearing only a diaper. What alarmed the family even more was the fact that the little boy couldn’t speak, a detail that made it more challenging to find him. But since Marshal disappeared with loyal dogs Nala and Buckwheat, that gave the family a bit of reassurance – the toddler was not totally alone and he was with pets who could protect him.
According to Marshal’s aunt, Kayla Stewart, all of them were beyond themselves with worry and that “all sorts of worst-case scenarios were running through their heads.”
The neighbors immediately helped the family by splitting up to search the area while the sheriff’s department posted about the case on Facebook. Corey Dobridnia, an officer at the Walton County Sheriff’s Office shares that part of their response is to get as many agency members on the ground as possible to help with the search.
“Minutes are precious when it comes to the search of a child.”
But because dogs are amazing and the family pets are incredibly loyal, the little boy was found on the same day of his disappearance. Carol Shelton, one of the neighbors, was the one who spotted the toddler about a mile away from his home.
“His dogs were right there with him. We’re thankful that the pups kind of guided him along. I guess they kept him safe.”
The quick-thinking neighbor and the determined officers helped bring the toddler back to his worried family.
“Marshal was in good spirits when found. A little dirty from the walk through the woods, but unharmed and happy. 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.”
While all human efforts definitely paid off in finding Marshal and bringing him back home to his family, one can’t help but think that the real heroes in this story are the loyal canines who kept the toddler safe. Marshal may have wandered off but he was never on his own.
Nala and Buckwheat never left the toddler’s side.
Imagine the possible dangers awaiting an eager, innocent toddler exploring the woods. Thanks to the dogs, the toddler sustained no injuries and was as healthy and happy as can be.
Pet dogs play such a significant role in the lives of each member of the family. More than just cuddly, furry best friends that bring comfort and love, dogs are extremely loyal and reliable. They definitely earned the nickname “man’s best friend”!
The toddler’s family were overjoyed to have Marshal home, safe and sound. Not only that, they’re quite proud of how their pets pulled through and kept Marshal safe.
“They’re doing their job,” declared Marshal’s mom.
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UPDATE: Child has been located.
Posted by Walton County Sheriff, Michael A. Adkinson, Jr. on Wednesday, June 3, 2020