UK drone group rescues lost dog in dramatic Welsh mountain mission

Drone rescue lost dog

There are very few things drones can do that are more satisfying than what a team of pilots accomplished in Wales over the weekend: use the craft to find and rescue a lost dog stuck in a dangerous situation.

Drones scramble in search of missing Wales sheepdog

The operation began on Sunday in the mountainous Snowdonia area of northern Wales, when a Border Collie named Bess went missing after returning a herd of sheep down the Glyder Fawr peak. Local farmer John Griffith says Bess circled back up the incline last Wednesday in search of any possible strays left behind, and failed to return or respond to calls. As the week drew to an end without any sign, Griffith figured Bess had gotten lost or trapped somewhere, and turned to the North Wales chapter of the Drones Search and Rescue for Lost Dogs organization. On Sunday, several hours after starting their mission, the group had located and recovered the wounded Bess – but not without a bit of requisite drama before the happy ending.

Initial attempts to locate the dog from lower altitudes were frustrated by fairly thick tree and fern cover in the search area. Crew members then headed up to higher elevations, with one pilot in the party eventually falling and breaking bones in his ankle. When continued combing came up with nothing, Griffith took the lead and began calling for Bess, eventually getting a reply. But rather than a bark, what the party heard were howls and cries. They soon discovered where Bess was stuck, and their hearts dropped.

“(L)ooking at where the sound was coming from it was treacherous, literally on the face of a mountain,” group leader Nia Wynn told Wales Online about their location on the 1,000-meters high Glyder Fawr. “I thought there wasn’t a chance.”

Drone (almost) rescues lost and wounded dog

Obviously, their drones wouldn’t be of any help to rescue the lost dog once she’d been located – the canine payload exceeding their maximum capacities. Meantime, Bess was stuck in place by an injury suffered in her fall down a ravine in the steep face of the mountain. It also turned out phones would be of no use that far up the peak – as a pair of members discovered after they headed up to find a way to the stranded Collie. And so the wait for information began.

Eventually, the duo managed to shout their success in finding Bess down the mountain– which was then relayed in yells by the human chain spread down the incline. The pair then began a long effort to find a less dangerous way back down. Once reunited, Griffith took over the duty of carrying Bess home, where a vet eventually looked her over.

“Her tail didn’t stop wagging as soon as she saw me,” Griffith said. “We were lucky she got stuck by the waterfall so she had a stream of water which kept her going. I would like to thank all the people involved.”

Technically speaking, the actual drones don’t get the assist for finding the lost dog rescued in this mission. But that doesn’t prevent Drone SAR for Lost Dogs UK from deserving applause for yet another successful outing in its expanding operation. In just three years, the group has grown to over 1,300 volunteer pilots and another 1,500 ground searchers across the UK. It has reunited over 1,700 lost dogs with owners – with those numbers continuing to grow. They now include new grateful members Bess and Griffith.

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