Age 6 Missing Boy Found, Then Rescuers See Dog Lying at His Side Who Refused To Leave Entire Time


Six-year-old Kaydon Leach disappeared in Blount County, Tennessee on the evening of April 23 with his dog Chula.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Endangered Child Alert for Kaydon after authorities began searching for him around 7 p.m.

Around 100 first responders had started the search, and search teams conducted grid searches through a 2,000-acre area overnight in the rain and well into Tuesday.

After a 22-hour search, Kaydon and Chula were found about a half-mile away from his home in the Top of the World Community in Blount County at about 3:30 p.m on April 24.

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The large-scale search operation included the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, volunteer search parties, K-9 teams, Blount County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, and a Black Hawk military helicopter.

But it isn’t the firefighters, sheriff department, or search volunteers who are being heralded as the heroes of this story. It is actually the black and white terrier Chula.

The dog was guarding his little master, keeping him safe until other people could rescue him.

“The dog actually growled at the rescuers when they approached Kaydon,” Blount County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jeff French said.

Through the rain, man’s best friend stayed by his boy’s side. Good boy, Chula.

Blount County fireman Aaron Woods was one of the searchers who found the boy and his dog.

“I keep saying he popped up. To me, he did, because I had just looked over there,” Woods said. “What I got to him, the dog was kinda giving me a little growl like ‘who are you?'”

Kaydon was cold, so the rescuers wrapped him in adult jackets and gave him a piggyback ride up the mountain to the road where he was later taken to Blount Memorial Hospital.

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“I was grinning from ear to ear. Even afterward, after we got down to our debriefing and all the way home,” Woods said. “I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff in my life, in my career, and this is the good stuff. This is the good stuff.”

Kaydon’s family released a statement through a hospital spokesperson expressing their gratitude for everyone who helped locate their son.

“We’re so thankful to everyone, from local law enforcement agencies to volunteers, who helped us find Kaydon. The amount of support we have received has been tremendous, even from people we don’t even know. We appreciate all our friends and neighbors, and ask for privacy at this time.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith