Drones as mainstream toys are a source of controversy, but no one can deny their lifesaving benefits in the hands of rescue workers. On Thursday, January 13, a pooch named Millie became stranded on the Hampshire, England mudflats amid the rising tides.
Police, firefighters, and coastguards tried everything they could think of to extract the Jack Russell/Whippet mix, but she continuously evaded their efforts. Until that is, they brought in a drone and a package of sausage from Aldi.
It all started when Millie slipped her lead while walking with her mom, Emma Oakes, in Havant, Hampshire. Rescuers and volunteers attempted to capture her on foot and by kayak. Their efforts only drove her closer to the perilous mudflats.
Oakes sought the help of volunteer organization Denmead Drone Search & Rescue to help track Millie’s whereabouts. After two days on the run, the stubborn dog was hungry and exhausted when inspiration struck one of the volunteers: Why not try luring her with food attached to the drones?
“One of the guys [called Dave] said, as a last resort, why don’t we try tying a sausage to a drone? This was day three, she’d been there on the mudflats for two days,” DDSR volunteer Stefani Dennis told CNN.
A volunteer purchased a pack of sausages from a nearby Aldi and, “one of the neighbors who lived by the beach came out and said she’d cook them for us,” Dennis added. “She was under a lot of pressure; she must have felt the world was on her shoulders. But these sausages were obviously very tasty.”
The neighbor also provided the string, and the team of volunteers set about tying the cooked sausages to the drones and sending them out on rotation.
“The string was tied around the body of the drone and around the sausage to make it dangle around two or three meters — it was very hard to gauge how close you were to the ground but it worked somehow. People were walking by and didn’t know what was going on, it was hilarious,” Dennis said.
Millie was immediately captivated by the flying meat and began trying to snag a piece from the hovering drones.
“She was very hungry and got hold of it at one point — and almost took the drone with her, she got about half a sausage.”
The plan worked! Millie followed the flying sausage off the mudflats onto higher—and dryer—ground. Her stubborn streak continued a bit longer until she was eventually captured in an industrial estate on Monday.
“I think all of us cried [when she was reunited with her owner], I was so thankful that she made it home,” Dennis added. “The way the community came together saved Millie.”
According to her mom:
“Millie’s a rescue dog so she’s quite timid. She loves being at home more than anything and now she’s back all she’s doing is sleeping. She just sleeps and eats and looks at you as if to say: ‘I’m resting, leave me alone.’”
Millie may never know just how much effort went into saving her life, but rescuers are in agreement: her safety is all that matters!