Drone Company Rushes to Rescue Trapped Dogs in Daring Life and Death Mission

A drone company is awaiting authorization from the Spanish government to rescue four dogs surrounded by lava from the Cumbre Viejo volcano eruption.

The dogs have been trapped in ponds in the area of Todoque, one of the towns most devastated by the eruption. Two companies have been feeding the dogs using drones over the past two weeks. But rescuing the dogs would be much more difficult since the operation has never been done before, according to the CEO of Aerocámaras, Jaime Pereira.

Pereira told El Pais that the mission is technically not even legal, since carrying humans and animals via drone is illegal in Spain.

The drone company is still awaiting last-minute approval for the mission from the Advanced Command Post, the authority overseeing the La Palma disaster.

"This is unprecedented, it's never been attempted before anywhere in the world. But it's either that or let them die," Pereira told El Pais.

On Sunday, Pereira and two other drone pilots, Borja Blanco and Daniel Romero, flew to the Canary Islands carrying hundreds of pounds of equipment. A statement from Aerocámaras said the technicians took a ferry to the area near the trapped dogs on Monday.

The drone pilots said they will utilize a large cargo drone that has been "adapted to the characteristics of the animals" as well as a support drone in an attempt to rescue the dogs. The cargo drone, which can carry up to 52 pounds, is normally utilized by the company to carry cargo to ships in the Strait of Gibraltar.

According to a statement from Aerocámaras, the pilots plan on feeding the dogs utilizing their drones as well as inspecting the area with various equipment including a thermographic camera. In order to carry out the dogs, the drones would have to transport them about 1,500 feet into the air and then to a safe spot outside the lava flow.

The drone company said that it, "hopes to be able to carry out the rescue of the animals once they get used to the presence of the UAS and the logistics and the pilots see fit to carry out the operation."

But another difficulty with the mission was finding a way to successfully catch the dogs and lead them onto the drone. Periera and his team engineered a net that comes down on the dogs with wet food in the middle. The nets would then be carried by the drones to safety.

The volcanic eruption in Palma has forced hundreds of people to evacuate and the lava flow has destroyed more than 1,835 buildings and almost 100 acres of land since erupting on September 19.

Drone company rushes to save dogs
A drone company is awaiting approval from the Spanish government to utilize drones in an 'illegal' mission to save dogs stuck in lava from the La Palma volcano. It is illegal to carry humans or live animals with a drone in Spain. Gabriel Trujillo/Getty Images

"Aerocamaras has decided to prepare this rescue with the sole objective of helping animals altruistically and to demonstrate that drones can help in emergency situations and rescues," the company said in a statement Thursday.

The Emergency and Rescue Group of the Canary Islands and the Military Emergency Unit attempted to rescue the dogs using helicopters but were unable to do so because of the materials released during the volcanic eruption.

It would also be difficult to conduct a land mission due to the lava flow that surrounds the dogs, according to a statement from Aerocámaras.

"For this reason, drones are the only viable way for a possible rescue of the podencos, whose monitoring is being carried out by members of the UPA La Palma protector."