Drone operator goes on dangerous mission to help save animals in Ukraine

Drone operator goes on dangerous mission to help save animals in Ukraine

The ongoing invasion of Ukraine has inspired people across the world to help out any way they can, providing resources to save lives.

Some of these rescuers are focusing their efforts on saving animals, who have been displaced from their homes and trapped in dangerous war zones.

Like one man, who is risking his own life to save animals in Ukraine using a specialized drone.

Doug Thron is a drone pilot and animal rescuer. According to his site, he is one of the world’s most experienced drone pilots, and began using his drone skills to help save animals. Using a drone equipped with a high-tech infrared camera, he has been able to locate pets lost in disasters like hurricanes and fires.

Earlier this month, he ventured into his most dangerous mission yet: saving animals in Ukraine.

“Although I’ve done rescues of countless animals after natural disasters like hurricanes, fires, and tornadoes this will be the first infrared drone animal rescues ever done in an active war zone,” he wrote on Facebook last month.

“The dangers are certainly very real but I feel so many more animals can be found that might not ever be found and saved quickly with my infrared drone.”

Since arriving in Ukraine on June 2, the mission has turned out to be every bit as harrowing as he anticipated. He told People that it was his “scariest mission so far: “It’s mind-boggling. These towns look like they’ve been ripped apart by a combination of a hurricane and a wildfire.”

But despite the dangers of being in a war-torn country, Doug has remained undeterred in his mission to save animals. Teaming up with ASSERT Drone Animal Rescue and the non-profit animal rescue Paws of War, he has used his infrared drone to successfully rescue animals.

One mission involved saving a mama cat and her kitten from a destroyed apartment building. The cats were up on the eighth floor.

“Not sure how this baby kitten and [its] mom survived this massive bomb but so thankful we were able to rescue them,” Douglas wrote on social media.

After making that heartwarming rescue, Doug and his fellow rescuers went back, hoping to rescue more kittens from the scene.

“We went back with food and water and brought the mama and the kitten in a carrier and used them to lure the other kittens out and into a drop trap,” he told People.

The invasion of Ukraine upended countless lives, and citizens were forced to abruptly flee the country, which unfortunately meant many pets being left behind in a war zone.

“So many people had to flee so quickly that they weren’t able to take their animals,” Doug told People. “They basically gave them a kiss on the head and said, ‘Sorry, we’ve got to go.'”

It’s safe to say these animals would be unlikely to survive without rescuers like Doug volunteering their time and risking their own safety. But the animals they rescue seem to be grateful for everything they do.

“These are people’s pets and most of them are super, super sweet, and warm right up to us the second we get on our knees and put our hands out. I can’t imagine how challenging all this must be for them.”

Thank you to Douglas Thron and all the people in Ukraine risking their safety to help animals in need. We wish you all the best in your mission and a safe return soon!

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