Family dog helps protect young lost child

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- Taking your dog for a walk isn't out of the ordinary, but it is when it's a 3-year-old boy by themself.

We'll show you how a dog and toddler duo managed to get lost and why the dog is being called a hero.

The 911 Call came in around noon on Tuesday from a mother after she noticed her 3-year-old son was missing.

Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John explained, "you could naturally tell she was upset and claimed that her 3-year-old son was missing, that he was playing in the front yard with some other siblings and when she looked out there she couldn't see him plus the family dog was missing."

Deputies began a search that lasted almost 2 hours before another 911 call came in from a man almost a mile away.

Doug Reichelderfer says he initially heard an odd sound coming from his back yard. "I heard a child crying and I walked over this way to see where the crying was coming from because it sounded close. As I came around the side of the house is when I heard the dog start barking."

TV20's Landon Harrar reported, "the little boy was found just beyond those trees in that open clearing. Doug says he walked up to around 15 feet away to ask the little boy if he was okay. The little boy had a dog with him who was barking, that's the reason Doug stayed right where he was saying he didn't want to approach in case that dog got overly protective."

Reichelderfer said, "he seemed like a protective dog because he obviously followed the child from quite a distance through the woods and was right by the child's side. It didn't act really aggressive but more like it could have been protective."

Sheriff St. John says the pitbull style dog named Buddy stayed with the child the entire time he was missing

"Here again you hear all the horror stories of the pitbull dog you know being aggressive being mean, biting people and so forth and so this is the other side of the story where it wasn't that way. It was protective of the child and wasn't aggressive towards us."

The boy and buddy were both returned home completely without injury.