California Drone Animal Rescue Team Helping to Locate Pets Displaced by Maui Wildfires

As the devastation of the Maui wildfires continues to come to light, many pet owners in Lahaina and surrounding areas are frantically searching for their furry friends. Many pets were lost, injured, or sadly killed in the blaze, though rescue efforts have also been put in place for four-legged residents.

One new piece of technology is making the search for missing pets much easier than before, though. A Central California drone animal rescue team is helping search for pets and animals who still need help. They spoke with KSBW on August 16.

It's so difficult to look at or even fathom the immensity of these tragic Hawaiian wildfires, but people are coming together on and off the island in a show of support. ASSERT Drone Animal Rescue will be doing what they do best in hopes of saving as many animals on Maui as they can.

The Animal Survival & Safety Emergency Rescue Team--or ASSERT-- has assisted animals throughout several global tragedies, including the ongoing war in Ukraine and the 2020 CZU fires in Santa Cruz County, California. They're prepared for a number of obstacles, including wet weather, and they already have a plan set in place.

"We'll end up dividing up into three teams of two and using the information that we get from our drone pilot to be able to direct our teams directly to the locations of animals in need," Ryan Okrant, executive director of ASSERT Drone Animal Rescue, told KSBW. But how exactly does it work?

A certified drone pilot will navigate the drone around the scorched areas, where the drone will pick up on animals' heat signals using infared technology. Then, the pilot can use the device's screen to pinpoint the animals' locations in order to deploy rescue teams in the right areas.

Once animals are out of harms way, they will be passed along to a veterinarian who will make sure they're A-OK. The hope is that many of them will reunite the pets their families, too.

As the ASSERT team gears up to travel to Maui, animal rescue effort are already happening on the island. The Maui Humane Society is caring for thousands of injured and displaced pets, whom they desperately need foster owners for. They are connecting pets and owners with emergency supplies as well as searching burn areas for survivors. At this time, monetary donation through their website or Facebook fundraiser page is the best way to help.

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