A missing 3-year-old child with special needs was recently rescued by bloodhounds and deputies in the Florida Panhandle.
The boy had wandered into a large wooded area on Sunday morning after somehow managing to open a locked door, according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. Little Aedric Hughes had been staying at his grandmother’s home in Milton, local news outlets reported.
The bloodhounds were called in after an “immediate search” of the area was not successful. Fortunately, the large dogs named Copper and Zinc were quickly able to lead deputies Robert Lenzo and Josh Chandler to the child, who was “huddled tightly” in a heavy brush area.
“The photo of Deputy Lenzo carrying the 3 year old out of the woods speaks volumes as to the seriousness of the incident,” the sheriff’s office wrote as it posted a dramatic image of the rescue earlier this week.
“You hear that a 3-year-old is missing … it’s scary,” Deputy Lenzo told the Northwest Florida Daily News. “I would never say I knew we could help, but I knew we’d trained hard to get to that point. Someone tells you something like that and that knot in your stomach doesn’t go away until you have the kid in your hands.”
The sheriff’s office had started using bloodhounds one year ago. The canine heroes have found nine people during that time, including senior citizens and criminals — and missing children.
Aedric is autistic and has a congenital heart defect, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. He had some bug bites and scratches following his ordeal, but otherwise he is doing well.
“It’s every parent’s nightmare to get that call, that your child is missing,” Aedric’s mother Audra Hughes told the Florida newspaper. “When I heard they had (Aedric) but I couldn’t see him I was crying and kept yelling out ‘Mama’s here’ over and over so he could hear me … it was just very emotional. I’m so thankful to the officers and everyone involved. Where it’s the nightmare to hear your child is missing, the dream is to get him back safe. And we did.”