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I’ve Lost My Pet, Can A Drone Help?

Well, the short answer is HELL YES! However, the long answer is that it can be more complex than simply putting a drone in the air.

As Love 2 Fly-Drone Works, Gwen and I have been flying drones for a while, doing photography and videography but we have just recently started offering the lost pet search services with Thermal Imaging technology. Yes, that’s right, a thermal camera can be mounted on a drone!! The thermal camera is what allows us to search using the heat signatures of the pet, then we can confirm what we are looking at by using the visual camera with a very high zoom factor that is also on the drone. Drones that are not equipped with thermal imaging tech and high factor zoom lenses are limited for search and find applications and efforts.

One lesson we have learned, and we kind of already knew it, is that drones are an incredible tool. A tool that can be used with the other tools available to you when you lose a pet such as putting up flyers, posting on social media, utilizing trail cams and doorbell cams, working with ground search groups such as trappers and search dog teams, animal rescue organizations, local animal control and shelters and other tools.

What we have also learned is that each search case is its own animal (pun intended). And even with the technological advancements, the effectiveness of a drone search can be dependent upon several factors. First and foremost, and it can’t be overstated – Timing is critical. The earlier we can get in the air, the better chance we will have of locating the pet. Whether that is shortly after the pet is lost or soon after confirmed sightings, keeping the search area(s) as tight as possible will help maximize the success. With that said however, there are optimal situations for Thermal Imaging and not so optimal situations. We do want to get in the air ASAP, but time of day is very important. We live in the South, and we seem to have skipped right from Winter to Summer already, so the best time to search is early mornings or early evenings (nighttime is an option in some cases). Searching in the middle of days is possible, however, heat signatures get blurred very easily once the Sun has heated the ground up. Cloudy/overcast days are great however heavy rain or other precipitation can affect the drone equipment.

Also, we love the mountains and outdoors however that means trees. Did you know that Thermal does not mean XRay? WHAT?? That’s right, we can’t see through things (YET). As we get into heavily wooded areas and the pets are hiding out in those areas, hunkered down during the day or bad weather, it is difficult to see and confirm heat signatures (BTW another reason we like to search early mornings or later in the evenings or night is because pets will more likely be out moving around at those times).

Another consideration is location. The airspace in the US is categorized and certain areas have controls or restrictions that can limit or prevent drones from flying. Sometimes for safety but other times just because (but that’s a story for another day). Areas around airports, military facilities, state parks/national forests, sporting facilities and others have those restrictions.

Finally, we have learned that asking questions, and the right questions, about the lost pet can help us understand the situation and the possible behavior of the lost pet with regards to the search. Some questions we ask are obvious, but some may not be, all of them are important for not only for setting our expectations but also setting expectsations for the pet owner:

·      When did the pet become lost?

·      Where was the pet lost from, home or somewhere else?

·      How long since the last sighting and location from the original area the pet was lost


·      How long has the pet lived at your home?

·      Name of the pet?

·      Has the pet been lost before? How quick did it return?

·      Is the pet used to being outside?

·      Male/Female? Neutered/spayed?

·      Age and physical/mental health, what is the personality of the pet?


At the end of the day, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to find the lost pet, but we try to do everything we can to increase the odds that we will. We feel drones can be an incredibly useful tool for every lost pet search and we feel that the odds of finding the pet will increase when using the drones as a tool in concert with all the other tools available to you.

Please reach out if your pet is lost, we want to help in any way we can. www.love2fly/project-reunite

Peace, Love and Safe Flying!

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