A young boy went missing with two family dogs near his home close to Seneca, MO. When the young boy, 6 was discovered hours later in 20 degree temperatures, he was being protected by the two dogs.
Ryle Smith followed the family dogs, Baxter and Bella into the woods near him home while playing outside. Ryle became disoriented and got lost when it grew dark.
His parents, Ryan and Holly Smith realized the little boy was missing when he didn’t return home by 6:00 p.m. After searching the woods, Ryan Smith called the police.
Ryan Smith stated, “I was nervous because it was getting dark and some of the area in the woods can be really dangerous. He was outside with the dogs, and we didn’t see or hear from either of them.”
Police and emergency officials responded to the 911 call from the Joplin, Seneca and Redings Mill fire departments. Also involved in the five hour search were the Newton County Rescue and Recovery team and the Newton County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Ken Copeland stated, “We got into action quickly, and that’s what helped us find him. The Highway Patrol chopper was even in the area with infrared to see if they could help. It really was an area wide search that got him home.”
Shortly before 10:00 p.m., rescuers came upon a ditch where two dogs were seen. Underneath the two dogs, little Ryle was found with no shoes and cuts on parts of his body.
As the temperatures dropped into the low 20’s, Ryle crawled into the ditch. Baxter and Bella, the two family dogs crawled in on top of him trying to keep him warm.
When rescuers walked out of the woods and placed Ryle in his father’s arms, the family breathed a huge sigh of relief. Ryan Smith said of the moment, “When we got to him at the ambulance, he was wrapped up like a mummy.”
“I hugged him and told him I loved him. I was just glad to have my son back.” Ryle was treated and released from Freeman Hospital in Joplin with no serious injuries.”
The two beloved family dogs have secured their places in the home. Baxter is a boxer who the family has had for over 10 years, while Bella, a mixed Labrador was a new addition over the Christmas holiday.
The next morning, Ryle said, “I wasn’t scared, I was just really cold. Bella was my guard dog and Baxter was next to me the whole time.”
Ryan Smith spoke about his amazing dogs and the group of people who rushed into the area to search for the little boy. “They [the dogs] were incredibly in the way that they protected him.”
“They wouldn’t have left him anything. You can’t ask for more in a dog than that.”
“It amazes me how quick everyone came out to look for my son. An hour after word got out, you couldn’t get anywhere close to the driveway.”
“I still haven’t got to meet the men who actually found Ryle, but I just want them to know how thankful we are.”
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