Humans are pretty good at dealing with disasters. Police forces respond to crime and keep neighborhoods safe, while firefighters and paramedics ensure any accident results in minimal loss. Communities have a way of banding together when something hurts one of its own. But sometimes, a tragic situation requires a special touch.
In rural Kentucky, Beth Campbell’s lapse in judgment spurred a disaster that sent the entire town into a frenzy. Just when the optimistic community full of volunteers, firefighters, and other authorities were about to give up hope of solving the problem, an unexpected hero emerged from the fracas…
Beth Campbell of Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, struggled with drug addiction for years. So much so, in fact, that when tasked with watching her two-year-old granddaughter on June 7, 2018, she couldn’t help but sneak away for a fix.
On that day, Charlee wore bright blue pajamas, peppered with pictures of characters from the animated film, Frozen, and, at about 10 a.m., during her grandmother’s moment of vulnerability, she wandered off from the property on Winding Hollow Lane.
Adding more danger to the situation, the area around Beth’s home was not open, flat lands where you could spot a baby from two miles away: woods, fields, and hills flanked her property. Yet, unbelievably, the situation was even worse than it first appeared.
Charlee hadn’t been the only one to wander off the property on that hot June morning. Beth’s vivacious gray pit bull, Penny, had also wandered off the property. When Beth realized what was happening, she alerted the authorities immediately.
After the call, a collection of 40 law enforcement officers and firefighters gathered with trucks and ATVs to scour the surrounding areas. To track Penny and Charlee, they even used dogs with thermal imaging cameras on their backs.
Because nothing brings a small town together like tragedy striking one of their own, a militia of volunteers joined in on the hunt for the missing duo. Locals Eric and Leanne Wilson had never met Charlee—but they helped anyway.
“What if that was our child?” Eric Wilson, left, said. “We’d want everybody that was possibly able to help us come out and find our child.” Another volunteer, Cheyenne Ashley—who lived just one mile from Beth—expressed similar sentiments.
The community banding together to search, “really makes you believe that the people around you do care about you,” Ashely said. The volunteer army searched pools, nooks, and crannies, but after hours in the hot sun, they turned up nothing.
Many feared the worst: Locals knew stories of kids far older than Charlee drowning in the community’s creeks or suffering a snakebite. Meanwhile, authorities searched and re-searched areas nearby the Campbell home. Where could a two year old have been?
About 36 hours after Beth reported Charlee, Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell, below, said authorities planned to “backtrack” possible routes Charlee could’ve taken. But before they could, Beth, who’d been at home praying, saw something outside her home…
Outside the window, Beth saw Penny running toward her. The pit bull didn’t have Charlee at her side, but relief washed over Beth nonetheless. She knew that Charlee would turn up soon. Penny, she reasoned, “was not going to leave that baby until she got here.”
Beth didn’t know it, but right about the time Penny showed up at her house, a neighbor just a few blocks away, Wayne Brown, below, received a surprising visitor of his own.
Wayne had spent three hours the day prior searching for Charlee, and on the Friday evening, he saw a bob of blonde hair at his door. At first, he was startled by the visitor. But then he noticed what she was wearing.
Yep, Charlee had wandered onto Wayne’s back porch, still wearing her Frozen pajamas! Wayne brought her inside immediately where she threw up three times from dehydration. Ticks and scrapes covered her body, too. She was in rough shape.
Wayne gave Charlee water—which she gulped down—and alerted the authorities who brought her to the local hospital. She’d lost her diaper in her time away from home, but amazingly, didn’t accrue any serious injuries. But what happened to her in those woods?
After rushing to the hospital to greet Charlee with her favorite stuffed animal, the Campbells started putting the story together. And every theory had a special hero.
“This is our hero right here,” Beth said of her pit bull Penny. She believed the dog protected Charlee during her entire time away from home. Together, the two survived in amid the tick-ridden brush and the summer heat, until Penny led Charlee home.
Charlee “is our life, our life revolves around her,” Beth said. “I just couldn’t imagine my life without her, and I don’t want to.” Still, investigators had questions before closing the case.
How, for instance, had Charlee and Penny stayed hidden from the volunteers and trained rescue teams only to turn up less than a mile away from where she’d gone missing? Had the duo laid down behind a log and just… disappeared from view?
Regardless, her survival, according to Sheriff Tinnell, was nothing short of spectacular. “I can’t believe she survived it,” he said. “There’s coyotes in them hills. There’s copperheads and rattlesnakes and ticks—all the elements.”
To thank Penny for protecting such a major part of her life, Beth planned a small celebration: besides a few extra doggie treats, the friendly pit bull received a few cheeseburgers for dinner!
While all the facts have yet to come out, the timing of Penny’s and Charlee’s re-emergence certainly suggests the two had been together in the dangerous Kentucky wilderness. And if that was the case, Penny was no doubt a heroic pit bull—a good girl, indeed!
Watch the video below to hear Beth speak so fondly and proudly of her beautiful pit bull. You can clearly see how, in a single moment, this dog served as a beacon of hope for an entire town!
Given Beth’s lapse in care, authorities weren’t content to close the investigation into the situation once Charlee and Penny returned. But without the heroic pit bull, the situation would’ve likely turned out much differently!
Share this heroic pit bull with your friends who love animals!