Cherry, a 5-year-old Chihuahua mix, was out walking with her owner in South Wales when she went chasing after a stick and never came back.
Her desperate owners organized search parties through the mountainous terrain and created a Facebook page, spreading the word about the little dog's plight. A local caving club looked down mine shafts and crevices, while scads of volunteers scoured the frigid, rugged mountainside looking for any sight or sound of the missing dog.
With family members convinced that a helicopter might be the only way to find Cherry, they listened to so many people who posted on the missing dog's Facebook page and set up a Go Fund Me account. Within a day, they had raised about $1,500 to pay for an eye in the sky.
But they didn't need to use the funds. A local drone company stepped up and offered their services to find the missing pup. Using a drone fitted with a thermal camera, a pilot from Resource Group Unmanned Aviation Services found Cherry in an old mining tunnel within 20 minutes. With the help of police, fire service and RSPCA members, they rescued the dog nearly five full days after she had disappeared.
"We are delighted to have been able to reunite Cherry with her owner," Resource Group's John Larkin said. "This just goes to show the widespread applications of drone technology from aerial inspection and surveying to search and rescue situations, highlighting the breadth of our Unmanned Aviation Services."
The dog was taken immediately to the vets, where she was found to be tired and a bit bruised but declared healthy, despite her exciting ordeal.
A community effort
The family is offering to return the funds or donate them to the charities and organizations that helped with the search and to the community, says Jasmine Slingsby, whose father owns Cherry.
They are incredibly grateful to the drone company, of course, but especially to all the people who volunteered their time and money to help with the search.
"The drone was the thing that found her and without it she wouldn't be found. We can't praise them highly enough," Slingsby says. "But without the community, the other things wouldn't have been accessible to us."
Slingsby has since started a website for people who have lost their dogs in hopes they can have the same kind of community support. She says her family is amazed by the amount of kindness and dedication people showed for a tiny dog and a family they had never met.
"It was overwhelming; we couldn't believe such kindness exists," she tells MNN. "Many of the people who turned up were strangers and the love they showed our family is unreal. I don't have the words to thank everyone the way I want to."