Concerned residents gave up their weekend to help track down a rescue dog that ran away when he was frightened by another animal while out walking.
With the busy A259 between Worthing and Littlehampton, and the railway line close by, his handler was extremely concerned for Derek, as he had been rescued from a village in Crete just four months ago.
Follow appeals on social media, dozens of people from Worthing and beyond joined the search, led by Worthing dog warden Russ Akehurst.
The three-day hunt eventually ended on Sunday evening, when a couple driving west along the A259 near Ferring spotted Derek, walking by the side of the road.
Russ said: “During those three days and two nights, Derek crossed the A259 several times and would also have been really close to the live railway line.
“Maybe luck was on his side or maybe someone was looking out for him. I’m just pleased that he is now home safe and sound.”
Russ thanked the community for their help looking for Derek, a black, springer spaniel type dog.
He added: “I’ve spoken to his family, who are overwhelmed by the support of the local people who gave up their weekends to help search for Derek, and for the hundreds of well wishers who were praying for his safe return.”
Derek was being looked after by his owners’ family members while they were on holiday, so he is not familiar with the area. He escaped in the West Worthing area after becoming frightened by another animal when out walking on Friday morning.
Russ, who works for Worthing Borough Council, was called shortly afterwards and soon, word about Derek spread online. People from as far as Basingstoke took part in the co-ordinated effort to locate him.
Russ said the search was made more difficult as there were no familiar walks or parks that Derek may have gone to and he would be unlikely to be able to find his own way home.
He was, however, used to living on his wits, due to his life in Crete.
Russ said: “On the plus side, having lived on the streets he should be more streetwise, with better road sense. Also he’s used to fending for himself.
“On the flip side, he’s more likely to be nervous of humans and not want to be caught, being better equipped to avoid anyone who approaches.”
Derek’s best doggy friend was brought from Basingstoke to join the search, in the hope his scent would lure Derek back.
Russ said: “Derek, however, had other ideas. He spent his second night in the wild, evading the growing dedicated army of dog lovers who had willingly given up their time to see him safely reunited with his family.”