La Palma dog rescue operation: dogs seem to have been rescued

The Spanish drone operator Aerocamaras will try to rescue three emaciated dogs trapped by lava on the Spanish island of La Palma. They are on the island, doing tests and getting ready for the extremely stressful rescue operation.

The dogs have been stranded for weeks in Todoque, one of the first places devastated by the lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which erupted a month ago.

Follow the latest news on the rescue operation here.

October 21: A-Team claims to have rescued the dogs
The dogs were rescued by people who entered the area a few days ago, according to local news company Palmerus.es. The rescuers left a banner on the place where the dogs were last seen, saying “Stay strong La Palma, the dogs are fine, A-Team”, according to Palmerus.es.

Jaime Pereira from Aerocamaras confirmed that they had seen footprints and a banner, but they couldn’t see what was written on it. “We only want to see the dogs to confirm that they are well and are the same ones that we’ve been looking for,” Pereira told reporters.

But the rescuers want to stay anonymous since they entered a restricted area. They told Palmerus.es that the dogs are fine and with their owner.

October 21: Dogs maybe already rescued
Aerocamaras said on their Facebook page that they found “footprints that appear to be from people within the exclusion zone. This might explain the absence of dogs in the inspected area.” It could mean that the dogs have already been rescued, but they can’t confirm that yet.

“Our current intention is to make sure the dogs have been rescued and are doing well. We would love to confirm this and be able to terminate our operation in La Palma,” they added.

But A Team wants to remain anonymous, since the area where the dogs were was a restricted are


October 20: Dogs are missing
Jaime Pereira, CEO of Aerocamaras, told reporters that they looked at the area where the dogs were last seen, but couldn’t find them. They said that maybe due to the heat, the dogs were hiding somewhere else. They’ll continue till night to find the animals with drones and night cameras.

“We carry a loudspeaker, we fly 5 metres off the ground, you can hear it from where we are. They should come to some of the sounds, they should come when they see the drone because they are used to being fed. Right now that is not happening,” Pereira told reporters.

“We are going to evaluate it, we are going to look for them, locate them and as soon as we see one we are going to request rescue authorisation,” he said.


October 20: Owner of the dogs
A man has come forward as the owner of the dogs, according to Alejandro Molina, spokesman for local animal welfare group Leales.org, who first discovered the dogs were trapped by lava on the island.

Molina told news agency AFP that if the operation is successful and the dogs have microchips which confirm he is the owner, they will be returned to him. He said that the drone operation is the only way the dogs have a chance of surviving.

“We don’t have experience transporting a live animal by drone, nor does anyone,” Jaime Pereira from Aerocamaras told private television Telecinco. “The dog could react by running away, moving, jumping,” Pereira said. “There are those who say that the dog could fracture a bone, have a heart  attack. Of course, there are all sorts of risks, but either we get them out or probably in a few days or weeks, they will no longer exist.”

According to AFP, there’s no date set yet for the rescue operation.

October 20: Explore the area
The company said Wednesday morning that they are getting ready to explore the area where the dogs are. They did tests in front of authorities, and everything went well. The CEO of Aerocamaras, Jaime Pereira, confirmed via Twitter that authorities approved the tests and they were ready for the rescue operation.


October 19: Permission to rescue the dogs
Aerocamaras received permission on Tuesday afternoon to rescue three emaciated dogs trapped by lava on the Spanish island of La Palma. To save the dogs, the company will use a metallic-grey drone with a catching net mechanism. The drone weighs 50 kg (110 lb), has six rotors, two cameras and can carry 23 kg.

“What we are going to do is to put bait in the center of the net. The net is about two metres in diameter and 1.5 metres high. When we introduce the net, we will wait for just one of the dogs to enter, and we will lift the net,” Jaime Pereira, CEO of Aerocamaras, said.


October 14: Drone company comes with rescue plan
Jaime Pereira, Borja Blanco, and Daniel Romero from drone company Aerocamaras arrived in Tenerife on their way to La Palma. They’ve come up with a way to rescue the dogs using their cargo drones that can lift up to 24 kilograms.

Thanks to the collaboration of Iberia and Peninsula, they were able to travel to La Palma with their equipment, they said on their website. They added that they have to wait for permission from authorities to transport live animals with a drone.


October 12: Local drones feed dogs
Footage of the skinny dogs was first shared on Tuesday (Oct 12) by the Island Council of La Palma. They didn’t know how long the animals had been trapped without food and water, but the dogs looked very skinny.

They added that helicopters couldn’t fly in the area due to the hot air coming from the lava and volcanic ash that can damage the rotors, so rescuing the animals with a helicopter wasn’t an option.

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