2-year-old Dante Berry, declared missing from his home in Mildura, Australia, on Tuesday, November 6, at around 8:30 p.m., is now safe and sound. Police found Dante alongside his loyal German Shepard, who never left his side throughout his ordeal.
Parents alerted the police of the toddler's disappearance as he wondered off from the house, with family dog Dasher, HuffPost writes.
A rescue effort was put in place, with 100 neighbors and friends helping the parents find the two-year-old. Officials estimate he walked for 6 km (3.8 miles) on foot, before he was located, barefoot and crying.
“There was a bit of rain overnight and some thunderstorms, which must have been a bit nerve-racking for the child, but he was in pretty good nick considering,” Senior Constable Carol Rigby says.
Dante's paw prints are what helped the search party locate the pair. The German Shepard's prints were visible alongside the missing boy's tiny footprints, and a diaper belonging to Dante was left on a trail, covered in Dasher's paw prints.
He was found in a forest, 3.2 km (2 miles) from the family home. As police were close to Berry's location, Dasher jumped out from the bushes and led them to his owner. Dante and Dasher stayed missing for 14 hours, during which they wondered through the woods, mostly walking in circles, police believe.
“You could just imagine what was going through his little mind - lost (and) dark. Lucky he did have his dog to keep him warm overnight,” Department of Sustainability and Environment tracker Will Hannah states.
Dante was found barefoot and wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt, but it is likely that the dog kept his body temperature stable throughout the night, keeping him warm.
“We were happy, but not surprised, to learn that his faithful dog, Dasher, stayed by his side and was also found safe and well,” his parents state.