Thermal drone finds lost rescue dog in the desert outside Dubai

Published:  10 Apr at 6 PM
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A South African couple in Dubai feared the loss of their almost blind rescue dog until a friend offered assistance with his thermal drone.

Stevie, a four-year old German Shepherd dog, was adopted from a local dog rescue shelter by South African expat Michael Rudolph and his family almost four years ago as a four-month old puppy, after being severely beaten and starved by his former owner. His injuries were so severe that he suffered brain damage causing epilepsy and was almost blind, needing constant care and love from his new owners. According to Rudolph, he normally didn’t stray far from his home but, that night, he must have become unsettled, lost his way and wandered out into the pitch-black desert, causing a nightmare for his owners.

Stevie's new home was located south of the Outer Bypass Road in Area 55, and his panicking owners soon realised they wouldn’t be able to see him in the darkness of the desert night. The family and their emirati friends fanned out across the area, but the search was made far harder due to the fact Stevie hadn’t learned to come when called due to his injuries. Rudolph’s 20-year old daughter, in Dubai on a visit from South Africa, even wandered around the desert shaking a tin containing the dog’s favourite treats, all to no avail.

As the crisis worsened, Rudolph called his friend Eduardo Dorado, a drone pilot, in hope against hope that he could help. Dorado and his team arrived carrying a heat-sensing thermal drone able to identify Stevie’s body heat and show him on the screen as a red blotch. Sure enough, after a few passes over the area, the red blodge appeared two kilometers from the house, and Rudolph rushed to be reunited with the exhausted dog.

By that time, he’d been missing for around six hours, with his adoptive family beginning to believe they’d never see him alive again. All’s well that ends well, thanks to ultra-modern technology, and Stevie will hopefully have learned his lesson to keep close to his home at all times.
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