Family Dog Saves Toddler's Life

Family Matters on 04.06.11

Photo: emildom/Creative Commons

When 22-month-old Tyler Jacobson went missing from his mother's home in South Carolina, search teams spent the night searching for him -- unsuccessfully -- as temperatures dropped into the 40s. But the next morning, they found the toddler crying in the woods, wearing only a t-shirt and a diaper, and kept warm overnight by another member of his family: their mixed Labrador retriever.

Tyler's mother, Jacklyn Marie Jacobson, said she and her boyfriend were watching a movie with the child when Tyler left the room to get some juice. They called 911 to report Tyler missing 45 minutes later, and the local emergency services responded with bloodhounds, a 25-person search team, and a helicopter using infrared search technology. The county sheriff told South Carolina's The State newspaper that the helicopter may not have found the boy because the dog was curled up with him: "The infrared picked up a lot of deer and other animals but no little boy," said sheriff Jim Matthews. 

The next morning, a searcher heard Tyler crying from a spot about 200 yards from the road, in the woods behind neighbor Linda Harr's house. But after hearing the helicopters, Harr thought a criminal search was in process and she locked her door. "The last thing I was gonna do is go outside," she said. "I just wish I'd have known, I could have warmed him up, called the cops."

The State notes that, after finding "deplorable" conditions in the Jacobson home, authorities notified the Department of Social Services; Tyler's father planned to return to South Carolina from his military post in Hawaii on Saturday. Meanwhile, the family dog has been praised as the indisputable hero of the day. "To tell you the truth," said Matthews, "that dog is what kept him alive."


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