Hero dog guards autistic toddler for two days when she goes missing in the woods

A dog believed to have stayed beside a two-year-old autistic child during the time she went missing has been hailed a “hero” by the toddler’s family.

Charlee Campbell disappeared at around 10 am on Thursday morning from her grandmother’s house in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky.

Emergency services and volunteers combed the woods in search for the little girl before she was spotted by neighbours 36 hours later.

The family believe her pit bull Penny saved her life by staying by her side the whole time long.

In what seems to be much more than pure coincidence, the pitbull returned to his owners just a few minutes before Charlee reappeared.

"This is our hero right here," Beth Campbell, Charlee’s grandmother, told WIS-TV.

“When my dog didn’t come home, and my baby wasn’t home, she was not going to leave that baby until she got here," Campbell said about Penny.

The dog is believed to have guarded the child, who officials have confirmed is on the autistic spectrum, as she risked being exposed to all sorts of menaces.

"I can’t believe she survived it," Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell said.

"There’s coyotes in them hills. There’s copperheads and rattlesnakes and ticks… all the elements.

"And somehow she came out in pretty good shape,” Tinnell said, WAVE 3 reports.

The surprise at the toddler’s reappearance was mirrored by a chief firefighter, who branded it a "miracle".

Still in hospital on Saturday morning for evaluation but she was okay.

The blonde and brown-eyed girl was reported to have no apparent injuries besides some scratches and tick bites.

“Charlee’s amazing survival story continued tonight when she walked up on a porch on Roy Layne Road this evening,” police said on Facebook .

“The homeowners realized who she was and contacted authorities. Ironically, her dog returned home on its own a few minutes prior to Charlee approaching the homeowners,” the statement said.

An investigation is underway into Charlee’s disappearance.

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