Animal lovers mounted a huge search operation to find a terrified rescue dog after she ran away.

Owner Alice Wright had set off for a hiking holiday, leaving recently adopted rescue pooch Mila, a collie mix, with her partner at work in Crawley.

But disaster struck when Mila bolted out of an open door.

A search party was launched and Mila was traced as far as Tilgate Park and the forest on the outskirts of the town but, frightened in unfamiliar surroundings, she evaded capture.

Alice, who lives in Eastbourne, returned from her trip to Wales to join the search and sightings poured in, which revealed Mila had crossed the A23 and was spotted at Three Bridges railway station before worrying reports that she had been seen on the railway tracks.

Meanwhile, Lost Dog Recovery UK South printed hundreds of leaflets through contacts in Eastbourne and set up motion sensors, a blanket and food to tempt Mila into a garden near the railway line.

Although Alice saw Mila on the railway line from a bridge, the dog was nowhere to be found when staff from Network Rail and Sussex Police searched the area.

Two days after Mila first went missing and unaware of the drama, electricity engineer Paul Robins was collecting some equipment from a UK Power Networks’ depot in Stephenson Way in Crawley when he found the missing dog.

The Argus: Mila after being rescuedMila after being rescued (Image: UK Power Networks)

Paul said: “I could hear rustling in the bushes nearby, then growling and I then saw her. She growled a bit, then flopped on the floor and I could see she had a tag.

“My colleague watched her to make sure she didn’t run off while I cautiously approached her. She looked terrified.

“I gently touched her back and she let me stroke her so I could see her tag. I phoned the number on the tag and gave Alice directions to the yard.

“Mila wouldn’t move at all so eventually I picked her up, she was so chilled out.”

Alice burst into tears when she was reunited with Mila and said: “When she got home she was play-fighting with our other dog Jack as if nothing happened.

“She is fine and I’m the one traumatised by the experience. We’re just so relieved and grateful to everyone for their help and kindness.

“Everyone was amazing - they don’t even know my dog but they were so kind and generous with their time.

“This whole experience has left me with a nice fuzzy feeling about humanity.”