Riley Martin, a four-year-old boy with Down syndrome, went missing with his three family dogs Wednesday. The search for Riley and his dogs, Missy a ten-month old kelpie and two fox terriers Nitro and Bruno, went on for 19 hours. The four went missing from their home in Australia. It is believed Riley opened a gate in the family’s yard, and when the dogs ran out Riley followed them.
Leif O’Brien and Sally Pratley heard of the missing boy and his dogs on Facebook and decided to help in the search. “We have children of our own, that’s why we came up,” said Pratley. The couple spent the night searching the nearby Shelly Beach. At 1am they went into their van to sleep and resumed searching again at dawn on Thursday. It was when they resumed the search that they got a lead, “We heard a dog bark and ran towards it and found him face down curled up underneath a bush,” Pratley said. He had been found about 1km from his home.
Riley had spent the night cuddled with one of his dogs. He was freezing cold and a little scratched up but otherwise doing well. Superintendent Shane Cribb said, “He took three dogs with him and they kept him company throughout the night, which was probably something that kept him with a bit of warmth. That might have been enough to get him through the night but I suppose we’ll never know.”
Riley’s mother Bianca Graham was very thankful to the couple for finding her son. “Thank you so much, you saved my life and his too, you saved our lives,” Graham said.
The dogs returned home one by one after staying with Riley all night. “They were very thirsty and covered in ticks,” said family cousin Paula Howle.