A Spanish drone operator received permission on Tuesday to attempt to rescue three emaciated dogs trapped by lava flow near a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma.
The three animals – a local breed of small greyhound known as a podenco – have been trapped for weeks within an empty water store completely surrounded by lava stream.
They have been kept alive by an animal charity which arranged for drones to drop food and water in to the terrified dogs in the area which is completely filled with volcanic ash.
And now drones could be their own chance of salvation, after authorities gave the green light to a daring rescue bid that will use remote controlled aircraft to attempt to catch them in a net and lift them out over the stream of red hot magma to safety.
The plight of the three dogs has gripped the nation and donations have flooded into Leales.org charity which is behind the rescue bid.
Airlifting the animals by helicopters is not an option because of the danger from volcanic gas in the air that can damage the rotors.
But a Galician drone company Aerocamaras has come to the rescue offering to attempt to catch the animals and fly them to safety using the latest technology worth €60,000.
Jaime Pereira, CEO of Aerocámaras explained that it is a ‘dangerous manoeuvre that has never been done but it’s the only chance they have”.
The operator will have just four minutes to lure a dog to the net, and another four minutes to fly it out.
“We have to take the animals out one by one animal because the drone cannot carry more than 20 kilos at a time,” explained Pereira to ‘Todo es mentira’ on Spain’s Cuatro
“What we don’t want is to run out of battery when flying over the lava,” Pereira said.
After evaluating the proposed rescue mission, emergency authorities said in a statement they had decided to allow it.
Ultimately, the mission depends on how the dogs will respond to the machine, Pereira said.
“They’ve been eating very little for weeks. They might come, or become scared of the drone. Success will really depend on their reaction.”