First responders in Harvard used a new drone to find a lost dog in Devens this weekend.

“MISSING DOG!” said the post that made its way across social media. Toro, a one-and-a-half-year-old Shiba Inu was lost in some woods in Devens.

“It was getting bitter cold,” said Robert Curran, a firefighter in neighboring Harvard, which happens to be equipped with a drone team. He brought his heat-seeking drone to the intersection where Toro ran away.

“In the thermal imaging camera, you can see a little white dot, seemed out of place. So, I zoomed in on it and saw the fur of this dog and it was laying down just sitting there,” he said.

Drone video shows a friend of Toro’s owner following Curran’s directions to the remote spot where the dog was stuck. “He started tossing treats because he didn’t want the dog to run away, and then he realized that the dog’s leash which he had been dragging behind him, had gotten wrapped up in some branches and was really wrapped-up tight,” said Curran.

The incident shows how vital drone technology can be for first responders. “We’re able to get this thing up in minutes,” said Harvard Police Chief James Babu. “We’ll go to a scene, it’s local, in five minutes it’s up and searching.”

Harvard recently used the drone in a search for a resident with dementia who had wandered from his home. It can take quick accident reconstruction measurements, and also helps with suspect searches. The drone team followed swimmers in a triathlon this summer, making sure they made it across the water.

In Toro’s case, no one knows how long he would have stayed trapped in the woods without the help of that drone. “I can’t believe I actually found it. It was like a needle in a haystack,” said Curran.

Toro’s owner says the dog is now safe and content, and they could not be more thankful. 


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