A little boy from Hackleburg, Alabama is home safe and sound today thanks to the efforts of some hardworking and courageous rescuers — both of the two- and four-legged variety.
Ten-year-old Kyle Camp, who has Down Syndrome, was reported missing Tuesday night after disappearing from his family’s home. Kyle had last been seen watching television around 4:30 p.m. that evening, and it is speculated that he wandered off into the nearby woods shortly after that.
When his family was unable to find the boy, they contacted police. A search party was formed shortly after 7:30 p.m., with more than 150 people teaming up to comb the woods and search the neighborhoods for any sign of Kyle Camp.
Also missing from the Camp household were four young puppies. The Camp’s dog had just given birth several weeks earlier and, like Kyle, the litter was nowhere to be found.
Finally, around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, search party volunteer and Hackleburg resident Jamie Swinney heard a strange sound. He stopped in his tracks to listen harder and realized that it was the sound of puppies.
“I heard the dogs barking again and followed him down there and started hollering for the puppies,” Swinney told WAFF 48 News, “and I hollered for [Kyle] and he hollered back. He was in the creek about a half a mile over the ridge.”
Kyle Camp was shoeless and scared, shivering near the cold creek, but the young boy was not alone: there curled up on his lap were the four missing puppies.
“Those puppies kept him company,” said Swinney following the boy’s rescue, “they kept him warm and comfortable.”
Kyle survived 18 hours in the woods and, aside from a couple of scrapes and bruises, is doing well. Swinney said that it was the puppies who managed to save Kyle from a worse fate, using their body heat to keep the little boy warm during that cold night.
“We don’t know what would have happened to him had the puppies not been with him,” Swinney explained.
Swinney is being hailed as a hero, but the restaurant owner and Camp family friend says that he was the search party member with the greatest advantage.
Following a hunch that Kyle and the missing pups were likely to be lost in the same place, Swinney brought the Camp’s dog — and mother to the four puppies — along with him on his search. With the mama dog leading the way, Swinney was able to locate Kyle and the pups who kept the boy warm through the night.
“I knew if anyone was going to find the boy it was going to be the mother of the puppies,” Swinney added, “and all I had to do was follow the mother dog.”