As pet owners, the thought of losing a furry friend is heartbreaking.
But what if technology could help locate lost pets faster than ever before? That is exactly what is happening thanks to the use of drones with heat-seeking technology.
In central Ohio, AFRS, Ohio’s first robotic fire department, was Called in to help find two dogs lost in a winter storm with temperatures below zero. They got separated from their owner while on a walk.
Chief Todd May and his team sent one of their high-tech thermal imaging drones to locate the dogs that were buried under a large amount of brush in a wooded area.
“If it hadn’t been for the drone finding their thermal signature, the 12-person ground team probably never would have found those pets,” May said.
AFRS, a nonprofit organization, uses drones for searches of missing persons, fires, and natural disasters. They have been involved in around 12 pet rescues thus far.
The dogs’ owner, Stephanie Dawes, expressed her gratitude, saying: “I owe him everything, because these dogs are my life.”
In Ottawa, Canada, a rescue dog named Burti ran away after arriving from Taiwan. Despite the sightings, the dog would bolt whenever someone approached. After six days of searching, Drone hobbyist Dawson Ross saw footprints in the snow and eventually found the dog.. Using a trap, they were able to catch Burti and bring her to safety.
Similarly, in Wisconsin, Matt Howell used his drone to find a dog. Using thermal imaging, Howell located the dog curled upand then sent the coordinates to the owner. It was another happy ending.
While drones have proven useful in locating lost pets, Don Wiley of Gold Wingnut Productions in Florida emphasizes that they are just a tool and not a complete solution.
“It really takes a team effort,” he said, noting that he had been a part of pet searches and volunteered for their drone services.
Drones have their limitations, such as not being able to see under cars or trees, where lost pets can hide. They also have limited battery life, can’t fly in restricted airspace like near airports or military bases, and thermal imaging doesn’t work as well on hot days or when there’s a lot of wildlife in the area. .
Cats are also better at hiding than dogs, making them harder to find.
In short, while drones have proven to be a great help in finding lost pets, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Drone experts believe the technology will continue to improve, making finding pets easier and ultimately more successful.
In the meantime, a combination of ground crews, volunteers, and drone pilots is still needed to get our furry friends home safely.
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