Drone Pilot Has Helped Over 150 People Reunite With Their Lost Dogs

Losing a pet can be incredibly stressful, as many of us unfortunately know. Whether to accident, theft, or some combination of unknowns, the task of searching for a lost dog is a daunting and draining prospect.

Fortunately, thanks to the advances of modern technology and the kindness of one stranger, many in the South Yorkshire village of Goldthorpe have been reunited with their furry friends.

Erica Hart, a longtime RC helicopter and drone enthusiast, started volunteering her services as an “eye in the sky” to help pet owners several years ago after seeing a Facebook post about a lost dog in her area.

PHOTO: YOUTUBE / Eloise O Maddocks

“I thought it may be good idea to get my drone out to see if we could find the dog for the family,” Hart told the Barnsley Chronicle. “Luckily the owner agreed to come out on the search and with the help of the drone, I was able to find the dog and reunite the pair. After this, I wanted to help as much as possible and have been doing this non-stop ever since.”

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Hart’s work has saved countless animal lives — often, she’s able to quickly cover ground that would take hours for a traditional search team, which makes the difference between a safe recovery and a tragic loss. “A lot of the time, the vet tells us that the dog had a matter of hours left to live before we find them,” she added.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK / ieyeDRONE

Pet thefts are on the rise in the area, likely caused by a variety of factors. In one instance, Hart found herself under police investigation because not only did she track down a stolen Shih Tzu, she found the thief as well.

By getting herself involved in a monetary transaction between the victim and the culprit, Hart opened herself up to accusations of being in league with the thieves and part of an extortion scheme. Hart insists she was trying to get the dog back by any means necessary, even if it meant giving in to the demands of the dognappers. “I never physically touched the money and I wish I had never got involved,” she later told Metro News.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK / ieyeDRONE

The community has rallied around Hart since she started her work. She’s saved over 150 dogs, and a modest GoFundMe organized by a local friend on her behalf surpassed its goal with nearly 50 donors helping to cover the costs of batteries, Walkie Talkies, and more.

“The worst part of this is when you have to let an owner know that their dog has died, it’s deeply upsetting for me. But what spurs me on to do this is the reaction both the dog and owner have when they’re reunited. It’s so emotional,” Hart explained to the local outlet.

Photo: Unsplash

“This is far beyond a hobby at this point. It’s something I do every day which I invest everything into,” Hart added. She doesn’t seem to like the spotlight and recently posted on Facebook that she will be taking a break from drone operating. Still, both her personal and public pages have been flooded with support from those who got a second chance to be reunited with their furry friends, and even if she stops entirely, she has left a lasting legacy in the lives of hundreds of pets and families.

See footage of Hart’s rescues on YouTube, and learn more about her community work at her Facebook page!

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