Six-year-old Kaydon Leach was missing for about 21 hours from his home in the Top of the World community. Missing, but not alone.

When searchers found the boy Tuesday afternoon, he was under the cover of a tree and cuddled up with his dog, his companion throughout the foggy, drizzly night when temperatures fell into the mid-50s. It turns out happiness really is a warm puppy, and the Pop-Tart given to Kaydon by a firefighter who found him safe with his canine friend was a nice treat for a hungry boy.

Kaydon went missing around 6 p.m. Monday from near his residence in the Top of the World community. News the child was found began filtering in around 3:15 p.m.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office said Leach was found safe about a half mile from his residence.

A search party consisting of Blount County deputies and firefighters were searching an area of interest and located the boy and his dog lying down, the Sheriff’s Office said. He was taken to an area hospital to be examined, police said.

Around 100 first responders from several local, state and federal agencies assisted in the search, which began Monday shortly after 7 p.m.

Search teams conducted grid searches throughout the night and into Tuesday. The Army National Guard provided air support with a Black Hawk helicopter overnight, and was set to fly again Tuesday just before searchers found Kaydon, police said.

Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said he wanted to thank all the agencies that provided support and assisted in the search.

Those agencies included the Blount County Fire Department, the Army National Guard and their flight team, AMR (American Medical Response), the Maryville Police Department, Blount County Rescue Squad, Alcoa Fire Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, media outlets and numerous citizens of the Top of the World community and others who provided food and water for the searchers.

“We are very happy Kaydon was found safe,” Berrong said. “We could not have asked for a happier ending.”

Crime and courts reporter for The Daily Times.

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