Volunteers have rescued a runaway dog from dangerous mud flats – by luring her to safety with freshly cooked sausages tied to a drone.
Millie, a rescue dog, slipped her collar and went missing on Thursday, January 13 while out for a walk in Hampshire, southern England.
Alerted by her worried owner, volunteer organization Denmead Drone Search and Rescue (DDSAR) set up a drone to track Millie.
After covering a large distance, the dog became stranded on mud flats that can flood in high tide, 20-year-old DDSAR volunteer Stefani Dennis told CNN.
Volunteers initially set about on foot, and on kayaks, to try to get close to Millie, who is a jack russell whippet cross.
The coastguard, fire services and the police also tried to help catch her, said Dennis.
But because she was so spooked, efforts to get close to her risked pushing her even further away and potentially into danger.
On the Sunday, one of the volunteers had an idea: why not dangle sausages from the drones and lure Millie to safety remotely?
A neighbor helps out – by frying up sausages
“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 mud flats for two days,” Dennis told CNN.
“One of the neighbors who lived by the beach came out and said she’d cook them for us. She was under a lot of pressure, she must have felt the world was on her shoulders,” Dennis added. “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 a number of drones, 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,” she said.
Once the sausage took flight and approached the dog, Millie began sniffing the air and trying to catch it.
“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.”
Millie followed the sausage off of the mud flats, onto safer ground.
But her escapade didn’t end there and she continued running, eventually ending up in an industrial estate on Monday, January 17, where she was reunited with her owner.
“I think all of us cried, I was so thankful that she made it home,” Dennis added.
“The way the community came together saved Millie.”
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the acronym for Denmead Drone Search and Rescue.