Best friend's bark saves day

As young Imogen Kelly shivered, lost and cold for nearly six hours in a South West forest, her dog Boston refused to leave her side.

The small town of Pemberton pulled together to mount a massive search for the adventurous 12-year-old, who went missing after taking Boston and a neighbour's dog for a walk at 3.30pm on Wednesday.

Dutch backpacker Arnold Pieters heard the dogs barking and found Imogen, who has Down's syndrome, just after 9pm.

She was stuck in a ditch on a remote logging track, 10km from her home, protected by the dogs.

Mother Justine Kelly, a nurse, said her daughter was cold, muddy and in shock but otherwise unharmed.

"But she's not any worse for wear for the 10km journey," Mrs Kelly said.

Imogen often takes the dogs for a walk around the close-knit neighbourhood in a rural subdivision 5km from town.

Mrs Kelly said she and her husband Brad started to worry when Imogen did not come home after about 40 minutes and started searching neighbours' properties.

Soon, nearly the entire town had joined in from the police and SES volunteers to local schoolteachers.

They all searched for the lost girl as the sky darkened and the temperature dropped on the cold winter evening.

Mrs Kelly said it was the dogs' barking that alerted Mr Pieters.

"She was found out on the logging road by pure chance, by a backpacker who decided to head out there by himself because everyone else was concentrating on the townsite," she said.

Mrs Kelly said Imogen was found surrounded by three protective dogs. "There were three in the end after a dog in town joined in, like a Hairy Maclary brigade," she said.

"They were her companions.

"Arnold said the dogs were circling her, barking and growling at him, so he couldn't get in the ditch to get her.

" He actually left to go back to get some help from down the road and brought back a lady who is a neighbour who managed to call the dogs off."

Mr Pieters, who works on a local orchard, said Imogen was cold, shivering and frightened when he found her.

"It's actually lucky that she fell in the ditch," he said.

"If she had continued where she was going she would have come across a hole in a bridge and a three-metre drop into the river."

Mr Kelly said the dogs played a key part in his daughter's rescue.

"It's extraordinary that she got so far away and that the dogs stayed with her the whole time," he said.

"She's very adventurous and has a stubborn determination. If she wants to go, she just goes.

"I'm 100 per cent certain that the dogs helped save her life.

"If they had not started barking when people came looking for her nearby, we might never have found her."
Mrs Kelly said the family had been overwhelmed by the support from the town and was immensely grateful.

Imogen Kelly with her faithful friend Boston. Picture: Tom Edwards

Responses to "Protective dogs help rescue and keep safe missing girl with Down's syndrome"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just shows how smart dogs are. Wonderful story of dogs love.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can'r describe how much I love animals, but in particular dogs. They seem to me to be superior in many ways.....I am not surprised but my heart if filled with joy and appreciation for these marvelous creatures...

  3. Karin Hradec says:

    That proves it, dogs are man's best friend.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dog spelled backwards = GOD

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful story!

Write a comment