News

Touching moment dog owner is reunited with missing cocker spaniel after drone pilot used thermal imaging to find her stuck in dark undergrowth


This is the heartwarming moment a drone pilot reunited a distraught owner with their missing dog thanks to high tech thermal imaging.

Izzy, a 20-month-old cocker spaniel, disappeared into the undergrowth while out on a walk with her owners near their home in Doune, Perthshire.

What would have been a ‘needle in a haystack’ search on the ground in the darkness only took 52-year-old Jamie Donaldson an hour.

The drone pilot used his DJI Matrice 30T thermal device to track the dog’s movements from above, and used its spotlight as a guide to direct the owner to their stranded pet.

While the expensive piece of equipment is something many people might associate with the military, the kit is being utilised more often on pet rescue missions. 

This is the heartwarming moment a drone pilot reunited a distraught owner with their missing dog thanks to high tech thermal imaging

This is the heartwarming moment a drone pilot reunited a distraught owner with their missing dog thanks to high tech thermal imaging

What would have been a 'needle in a haystack' search on the ground in the darkness only took 52-year-old Jamie Donaldson (pictured) an hour, using his DJI Matrice 30T thermal device

What would have been a ‘needle in a haystack’ search on the ground in the darkness only took 52-year-old Jamie Donaldson (pictured) an hour, using his DJI Matrice 30T thermal device

Mr Donaldson, from Auchterarder, in the Perth and Kinross area of Scotland, initially purchased his drone to support a hobby, but now uses it regularly to help search for missing pets.

The IT manager, who works for a computer company, said: ‘I started flying drones as a hobby, my job is not related to drones, and it has grown from there. Now I probably spend more time flying looking for missing animals than I do as a hobby.

‘It’s an absolutely phenomenal tool for searching for lost animals. Searching open areas of countryside can be tricky and some dogs can really blend into the undergrowth so the thermal imaging is amazing.’

He added: ‘From 400ft altitude I can see a rabbit 1,500ft away – it can save a huge amount of time. 

‘Also living in Scotland the weather can be questionable, I have an all-weather drone which is more robust and I can fly in higher winds, rain and even snow.’

After an appeal post had been uploaded to a local Facebook group, bringing Izzy’s disappearance to the attention of nearby residents, Mr Donaldson immediately set out to help find the pooch. 

The cocker spaniel’s owners had become panicked as darkness drew, and called for extra help. 

Without thermal imaging, they would most likely have been searching throughout the night with limited resources, or may have not found her at all. 

The cocker spaniel's owners had become panicked as darkness drew over woodland in Perthshire, and called for extra help by submitting a post on Facebook

The cocker spaniel’s owners had become panicked as darkness drew over woodland in Perthshire, and called for extra help by submitting a post on Facebook 

While the expensive piece of equipment is something many people might associate with the military, the kit is being utilised more often on pet rescue missions

While the expensive piece of equipment is something many people might associate with the military, the kit is being utilised more often on pet rescue missions

Mr Donaldson methodically scanned the 200-acre search area with his all-weather drone, checking any heat signal he came across.

The dog had caught her harness on branches in the undergrowth and was too scared to respond when her owners called to her.

Mr Donaldson continued: ‘With Izzy, it was late afternoon when I got the call. The owners had been walking her on a familiar route they walk on a regular basis.

‘She ran off into the undergrowth, as dogs do, but then didn’t come back. They continued walking round the route several times hoping she would come out, they tried calling and whistles but she wasn’t responding so they put a post on Facebook.’

The drone pilot drove out and began a search of the area ‘from the furthest point,’ working his way back towards where the pooch had disappeared from – and found Izzy just an hour later. 

Mr Donaldson said: ‘She actually wasn’t far from where she went missing, but she had got her harness caught and was hidden by the undergrowth.

‘Once I identified it was her I put on the spotlight so the owner could follow it to Izzy. She was obviously delighted to see them. It’s a fabulous feeling when you get to reunite a dog with its owner.

He added: ‘I have a lot of great stories and happy endings, but even when I don’t directly find the dog, the drone can still be helpful to rule out areas that the ground team then don’t need to search.’

Mr Donaldson methodically scanned the 200-acre search area with his all-weather drone, checking any heat signal he came across

Mr Donaldson methodically scanned the 200-acre search area with his all-weather drone, checking any heat signal he came across

The drone pilot used his DJI Matrice 30T thermal device to track the dog's movements from above, and used its spotlight as a guide to direct the owner to their stranded pet

The drone pilot used his DJI Matrice 30T thermal device to track the dog’s movements from above, and used its spotlight as a guide to direct the owner to their stranded pet

Mr Donaldson is a volunteer for Facebook group Drone SAR for Lost Dogs UK, which now has a staggering 90,000 members.

Graham Burton set up the group over six years ago and now has over 3,500 volunteer drone pilots and over 3,000 volunteer ground searchers across Britain.

The group has helped reunite thousands of dogs with their owners and received the International Fund for Animal Welfare award in 2022.

It comes another dog, who ran away from home, was found after 12 days in a nearby woodland after family used a thermal drone to locate him.

Ulysse went missing on 20 December during a walk, in Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire, and his owner Sam Boyle never gave up hope of finding him.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain she explained that she saw a thermal drone in use on Facebook which gave her the idea to contact Nottinghamshire-based charity Drone to Home to help with the search.



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button