Drone pilot who finds lost dogs says reuniting them with owners is like ‘winning the lottery’ – iNews

Drone pilot Erica Hart is a on a one-woman mission to reunite lost dogs with their owners.
To date, her dogged determination has successfully found more than 200, returning them to the family fold.
“I love helping dogs and reuniting them back to their owners because that dog is like a loved one”, she told the BBC. “It’s not a dog, it’s part of the family.”
Ms Hart uses a thermal imaging camera and a drone to search large areas near her hometown of Thurnscoe, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire after she receives a report of a lost dog.
The heat-seeking technology is able to spot dogs far better than the naked eye.
Her father bought the first drone for her for “silly money” and on an initial outing with it a dog owner approached her to help find his pet, which she did within 15 minutes.
“When I found that first dog and seeing the expression on his face because he’d been missing nearly four days it was just a thing that, yeah, I can do something, make myself useful, be a pillar to the community and help unite loved ones with their dogs,” she said.
Since then she has been carrying out the service at all times of the day and night, locating more than 200 dogs during the past six years.
Lea Williams lost his dog Chester for three days, which left the family distraught.
“My daughter didn’t sleep for three days,” he said.
But Ms Hart’s intervention ensured Chester was soon heading home.
Mr Williams said people like Ms Hart meant “there was a happy ending to the story”.
Ms Hart said she rarely accepts any payment for her canine quests, just the occasional donation for petrol money if she has to travel further afield.
She said her motivation is hounds rather than the pounds.
“I’m not a business, I’m not out there to make money,” she said. “I’m there to reunite the dogs back to their people.”
But finding each missing mutt has its own pay-off because she added: “It’s like winning the lottery, it is absolutely priceless.”
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