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Story Claims Toddler Went Missing for 2 Days Until a Veterinarian Checked Her Pit Bull. Here’s the Truth


In April 2024, a rumor circulated on both Facebook and Instagram about a story involving a veterinarian who supposedly believed a pit bull had something to do with a toddler’s disappearance. This story was displayed to users as paid ads, and read, “Toddler Is Missing For 2 Days Until Vet Checks Her Pit Bull.”

In our research, we soon learned this particular story was not true. However, we also found the tale appeared to have been inspired by a real-life disappearance of a little girl and her pit bull.

In this article, we’ll first look at the fake story, set in Arkansas, making the rounds in late April and early May. Then, we’ll follow it up with details about the true story that took place in Kentucky in 2018.

The Fake Story

Facebook and Instagram ads leading to the fake story included three pictures. We found several versions of the ads were active and displaying to users as of May 1, 2024. With the help of a reverse-image search, we successfully traced the photo of the woman hugging the dog to a genuine and completely unrelated news story from 2023, about a dog reuniting with his Oklahoma owner after being missing for nearly three years.

An online story claimed a toddler had been missing for 2 days until rescuers saw a pit bull wander into the yard and also mentioned a veterinarian.

An online story claimed a toddler had been missing for 2 days until rescuers saw a pit bull wander into the yard and also mentioned a veterinarian.

Users who clicked on one of the ads were led to a lengthy, 70-slide article hosted on either motormastermind.com or theparentingspot.com. The story began as follows:

Toddler Had Been Missing For 2 Days Until Rescuers Saw Pit Bull Wander into the Yard

Panic gripped the small town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, as news spread of four-year-old Lucy Campbell’s disappearance. The town was plunged into chaos as they tried to make sense of it all.

Search parties scoured every inch of the neighborhood, desperate to find any trace of the toddler.

Lucy’s parents, Grace and Greg, were beside themselves with worry.

At the end of this very long, fictional story, the 2-year old toddler, Lucy, is found safe in the home of her father’s mistress. Their dog, Rocky, was also found safe. Police then arrested the mistress, while the wife filed for divorce.

A small-sized bit of text near the top of the article read, “Disclaimer: For Entertainment Only. Enjoy!” A second disclaimer at the end of the story also added, “All events, places and characters are products of the author’s imagination, and all images and videos are used for illustrative purposes only.”

We found no record of any such toddler disappearance taking place in the small town of Eureka Springs, and no mention of a veterinarian in the entire article — despite the promise of a “vet” being involved, as the Facebook and Instagram ads said.

The story showing up in Facebook ads somewhat resembles glurge. The term is defined by Dictionary.com as “stories, often sent by email, that are supposed to be true and uplifting, but which are often fabricated and sentimental.”

The True Story

While the tale of the toddler’s disappearance in Eureka Springs was made up for “entertainment” purposes, it appeared to have been inspired by a true story.

On June 11, 2018, WGN-TV published a story with the headline, “Pit bull helps missing 2-year-old survive for nearly two days in the woods.” The article reported the details of the disappearance of a 2-year-old girl, Charlee Campbell, and her pit bull, Penny, in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. The last name Campbell was the same last name used in the fictional story.

The Facebook and Instagram ads leading to the fake story appeared to hint a pit bull may have been to blame for a toddler’s disappearance, while the true story featured apparent positive efforts by a real pit bull.

The article began as follows:

LEBANON JUNCTION, Ky. — A toddler who was missing for almost two days in Kentucky was found alive Friday, and her family says her dog is the reason she survived.

Charlee Campbell, 2, and her pit bull Penny emerged from the woods in Lebanon Junction after mysteriously disappearing early Thursday morning, WAVE reported.

“This is our hero right here,” said Beth Campbell, Charlee’s grandmother, while petting Penny. Campbell said she believes Penny stayed by Charlee’s side the entire time she was gone.

For further reading about the true story, we found Facebook posts published by the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office at the time of Charlee’s disappearance. An article from Louisville-based WHAS11.com also reported more details about the aftermath of the case.

Sources:

“Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office.” Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/bullittsheriff.

Fountaine, Heather. “Charges Filed, Questions Continue in Missing Bullitt County Girl’s Case.” WHAS11.com, 12 June 2018, https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/police-pursue-charges-against-grandmother-in-missing-child-case/417-563717583.

“Glurge.” Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/glurge.

Smith, Sara. “Seminole County Dog Missing for Nearly Three Years Found in Maud, Reunited with Owners.” KTUL, 9 Jan. 2023, https://ktul.com/newsletter-daily/seminole-county-dog-missing-for-nearly-three-years-found-in-maud-reunited-with-owners-capone-mastiff-candace-harjo-wewoka-police-animal-control-puppy-facebook-social-media-.

Tribune Media Wire. “Pit Bull Helps Missing 2-Year-Old Survive for Nearly Two Days in the Woods.” WGN-TV, 11 June 2018, https://wgntv.com/news/dog-helps-missing-2-year-old-survive-for-nearly-two-days-in-the-woods/.

“VIDEO: Bullitt Co. Sheriff Doubts Missing Girl Was Wandering the Woods Alone.” WDRB, 11 June 2018, https://www.wdrb.com/news/video-bullitt-co-sheriff-doubts-missing-girl-was-wandering-the-woods-alone/article_2d0e3897-d772-55d8-91f8-1705fbba9fe1.html.



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