Can A Drone Help Find Your Dog?

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The Cornish Rescue Video is 1/2 way down the page

If you’re reading this then we’d guess you’ve seen the huge media interest in our use of a thermal imaging drone to find our family’s dog Cherry, read here if not.

Drones are taking off in a big way. Once the preserve of the military, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now used in a wide range of industries, from aerial surveillance of crops to search and rescue operations to delivery of medical supplies to remote or otherwise inaccessible regions.

Even Amazon that huge delivery company of ‘Stuff’ are trailing their use for delivering parcels

But Drone’s have had some bad press, and you’re more likely to read about a drone nearly hitting a plane or intruding on  people’s privacy than finding a missing dog or person, but that doesnt mean they aren’t being used.

Drones Used to Find Dogs.

Despite the interest we had in using the drone to find Cherry it wasn’t the first thing we thought of, in fact despite googling every resource we could think of, not once did ‘Drone’ come up in any search result relating to finding or searching for a dog.

Our first thought had been to ask the Police to see if there was anyway of getting a flyby of the police helicopter which we knew had a thermal camera,we also tried Air Sea rescue, and the Military.

We knew this was a huge ask and our approach reflected this, we asked each service if any of their helicopters were already passing the area, and we offered donations. It wasn’t until we’d been turned down by them all that we started to look into the cost of private charter.

Upon realising it was going to cost at least £5000,  we almost gave up the search until we spotted Resource groups use of thermal imaging drones in other field of work and the rest as they say is history.

Types of Drone

You don’t necessarily need a thermal imaging drone, it’s just in our case our dog was so small, and the area so potholed we didn’t think anyone would visually locate her from the air.

This moving footage by Mark Thomas shows how he used a conventional camera a on drone to help locate ‘Huckleberry’ lost on a Cornish cliff
the six month old collie missing for three days on the South Cornwall coast.

Owner Jayne described the experience of a whole community rallying, to help to bring the pup back.

Hello Everybody, Huck’s owners here. Just wanted to let you all know how very touched we are by the efforts and goodwill that everyone put forward to help us find Huckleberry. Thank you a million thousand times over. Everyone contributed to his rescue – it was like a set of links – if one link had been missing we might not have been so lucky in getting him back and that is why having a whole community help to find him was sooo important. Huck is having his ups and downs. Yesterday he had a lovely calm day and seemed his happy old self but during the night he had nightmares and was howling again. He calms down when we hold him and speak to him but I think it is just going to take some time for him to get over it. We are tired, we have been up alot with him so please forgive us for not being a bit more in touch. Again thank you all for your care, he is so precious to us. Jayne & Dave

Film courtesy of Mark Thomas.

In another case here rescue workers in Iceland do not only save stranded humans caught up on glaciers or lost in the countryside; at times, they also engage in more unconventional rescue operations.

North Iceland rescue workers Björgunarsveitin Dalvík posted about a recent mission they were called out to attend to, and provided a video essay of the experience.

“There are many different projects that the rescue squad receives,” they write on Facebook. “Yesterday, a dog got lost just south of Dalvík after being struck by a car. The owner, along with others, searched well into the night and again in the morning, without results. Three members of Björgunarsveitin Dalvík went to the area at about one in the afternoon with a drone and the dog was found half an hour later. All’s well that ends well.”

Can Anyone Fly A Drone?

At the moment, there is nothing to stop you going and buying a drone and taking it out flying, as long as the drone weighs less than 20kg and you are not using it for commercial reasons.

However, you must avoid flying it within 150 metres of a congested area and 50 metres of a person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the pilot.

That’s probably going to be fine if you’re flying the drone in your back garden, but if you’re in a park, for example, you need to be very careful about making sure you’re not flying it within 50 metres of other people.

Whats you really need is a professional or a good and responsible enthusiast, the chances are that these people will have a much better and more effective drone than you could go and buy at short notice, whilst also obviously being a more effective operator of it.

If you’re reading this and you’re a drone operator anywhere in the country then we need you please email jasmine@findmylostdog.co.uk and tell her at what level you can help i.e paid professional, paid volunteer, or just on a ad hoc basis and we will get in touch.

Safety risk posed by drones

Anyone using a drone for commercial use is also required to seek permission from the CAA. To get a licence you will have to show that you are “sufficiently competent”. If your drone weighs over 20kg then it is only legal to use it in certified “danger areas” such as Parc Aberporth aerodrome in West Wales.

While most of the CAA’s enforcement efforts are focused on preventing people who are not properly licensed from using drones for commercial purposes, there have been cases where the CAA has stepped in and taken action, even when the person in question has been using the drone purely for domestic purposes

Robert Knowles, a man from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, who was convicted in 2014 for ‘dangerous’ use of a recreational drone after he lost control of the aircraft near a nuclear submarine facility.

Mr Knowles was fined £800 and ordered to pay costs of £3,500 at the Furness and District Magistrate court, after being prosecuted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for flying a drone within 50 metres of the Jubilee Bridge on the Walney Channel and flying over a nuclear installation, the BAE System submarine-testing facility.

The Law

“There is concern here that the use of these devices do pose a safety risk, and there have been incidents in the past year of collisions with other aircraft for example, and planes, involving these drones, so even if it’s domestic use, the CAA will step in if they think it’s being used in a dangerous or risky way,” Ms Annereau a specialist consultant told the Telegraph.

In Conclusion

Under certain circumstances the use of a drone, might speed up locating a dog or at the least save putting human life at further risk in doing so, we recommend if you feel a drone can help then you contact one of the drone companies we will have listed on this site, remember to subscribe for updates below.

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