UK & World News
Australia: Missing Boy 'Kept Safe By Dogs'
An Australian mother has said she believes her family's pet dogs kept her four-year-old Down syndrome son safe after he went missing overnight.
Cold, lying face down and covered in scratches, Riley Martin was found sitting on the ground in undergrowth in the state of New South Wales after he disappeared for almost 24 hours.
He and his three pet dogs - two fox terriers and a kelpie - had not been seen since midday on Wednesday when he went missing from his home in the rural town of Nambucca Heads.
A local couple saw a police appeal for help and immediately drove to the area to join up to 80 volunteers in the search.
They found Riley on Thursday morning with one of his dogs. "We heard a dog bark, we almost stood on him," Sally Pratley told reporters.
"He was covered in scratches and cold."
A man ran down a nearby street yelling "we have found him" to the boy's mother Bianca.
TV footage of an emotional reunion showed her grabbing hold of Riley and collapsing to the ground.
"Has he had water?" she asked. "He's been through the bush. Those dogs kept him alive. Words can't describe it."
The boy was checked by paramedics and taken to hospital as a precaution.
Police, emergency services workers, volunteers and neighbours had scoured the area around Riley's home until Wednesday night. Local police kept searching overnight.
Acting Superintendent Shane Cribb from Mid North Coast Local Area Command said Riley had wandered about 1km from his home.
"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," he told ABC Radio.
"That might have been enough to get him through the night but I suppose we'll never know."
Supt Cribb was surprised the boy was found in quite good condition given the circumstances.
He also praised the many volunteers and emergency service workers who helped in the search.