A beloved pet Chihuahua was rescued using a thermal imaging drone after she spent five days trapped on a mountain.
Cherry the rescue dog went missing on Wednesday, March 15, while out walking on Mynydd James near Abertillery , sparking a rescue mission and fundraising effort.
An exhausted Cherry, almost five, was eventually found trapped in an old mining tunnel after a team of drone pilots helped locate her by using thermal imaging kit to pick up her body heat.
The desperate owners created a Facebook page in the hope of finding her, which was liked by almost 2,000 people. More than £1,200 was crowdfunded for the rescue mission.
“My dad was out with her walking up the mountain in the early evening throwing sticks for her, and then she just disappeared and he didn’t know where she went.”
A drone sent up by Resource Group spotted Cherry at around 4pm on Monday and she was rescued at around 4.30pm – nearly five days after she vanished.
John Larkin, from Resource Group Unmanned Aviation Services, said: “We are delighted to have been able to reunite Cherry with her owner.
“Using thermal imaging cameras mounted to one of our unmanned aircraft we were able to locate Cherry within 20 minutes.
“This just goes to show the wide spread applications of drone technology from aerial inspection and surveying to search and rescue situations,highlighting the breadth of our Unmanned Aviation Services.”
After she was spotted, the party rescued her from the mining tunnel and she was taken straight to the vets.
Katinka said: “She went to the vets last night and she’s all healthy.
“She’s a bit bruised and tired obviously, but the vet was amazed how well she was.”
She added: “Animals are my life, I work with them and spend my spare time with them. We are so grateful that we have Cherry back.
“At the moment she’s on a strict lead, and she’s grounded for the time being!”
Dozens of people walked the mountain to try and locate Cherry, despite awful weather conditions.
On Sunday, searchers heard five separate yelps, which gave the rescue party hope that Cherry was still alive and on the mountain.
A statement on the crowdfunder page said: “We cannot be 100% sure it is Cherry as we did not see her but there was nobody else up there and we truly believe she is still at the top of the mountain.”
The money raised on the Go Fund Me page was to pay for a helicopter to get an aerial view of the terrain, but was not used.
Katinka said: “The amount of money donated is amazing. We have offered to refund it to people if they want, but if not we are going to donate it to a local charity.”
The crowdfunder statement added: “We love you wonderful, generous and kind people with all our hearts.
“People say that social media is the death of community but you have proven them absolutely wrong.
“I have never experienced community like this and you should all be so, so proud of what you have achieved.”
When Cherry was found, the Facebook group set up to help posted: “None of it would have been achievable without you. So much love and thanks for each and every one of you.”
Gwent Police and RSPCA collegues also helped with the rescue effort.
Gwent Police Inspector Lysha Thompson, who assisted with the rescue, said: “We received an e-mail from the family on Monday explaining the search for Cherry and the tremendous community support they had been receiving through their Facebook campaign.
“On reading this and looking at the circumstances over the past five days, it was quite clear that we needed to help, not only to help find Cherry but to also minimise the risk to those that were turning up on a daily basis, often in treacherous conditions, to assist in the search for Cherry.
“The response I received from our partner agencies including the Fire Service and Search and Rescue teams was phenomenal!
“The RSPCA and police officers who also attended, were able to respond quickly to the sighting by the drone, the result being a really happy ending for all, not least Cherry!
“This positive outcome was clearly driven by members of the community who pulled together with the family over the past few days and they should all be incredibly proud of themselves.”
“Whilst the Police have many priorities, there are none greater than being there to help people when we can and my colleagues and I are just incredibly glad that Cherry is back home.”
The Gwent Caving Club also offered their services, and searched various holes and crevices to try and find Cherry.