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Three-year-old Ponce de Leon boy found safe with family dogs

The two family dogs stayed with a boy who went missing Wednesday. (WJHG/WECP)
The two family dogs stayed with a boy who went missing Wednesday. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 10:35 PM CDT
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Wednesday morning, a nightmare for any caregiver became a reality for a Ponce de Leon family when three-year old Marshal Butler went missing.

"We were panicked," said Kayla Stewart, Butler’s aunt, "all sorts of worst case scenarios are running through their heads."

For several hours, law enforcement from Walton County, Holmes County, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission searched alongside family and neighbors for the child, who is autistic and can’t communicate.

"Through the whole process you're terrified,” said Stewart.

Neighbor Carol Shelton found Butler safe, with two companions. The family dogs, Buckwheat and Nala, stayed by Butler's side the entire time.

"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," said a neighbor.

Butler was found a mile away from home near a river without physical injuries.

"They're doing their job," said Butler’s mother referring to the dogs.

He was a little dirty from playing in the dirt, which we're told he really likes to do.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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