Reunited! Rescue dog Juno found by drone after a week missing
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
It came a couple of days late - but it still felt like a Christmas miracle.
A search and rescue dog reported missing almost a week ago has been brought back to her owner in an emotional reunion after being spotted by a drone.
Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue's (NorLSAR) Juno went missing on December 21 during a regular training exercise in Fritton Woods near Great Yarmouth.
A large-scale search operation, involving foot patrols, boat teams and professional drones, was launched to find Juno - in total it involved 65 searchers and 20 support members from rescue groups across the country.
And on Monday she was spotted by Paul Wesley, search manager and rescue drone team lead for Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue, who was operating one of three drones up in the skies.
Speaking as teams rushed to find Juno after the sighting, Ian Danks, NorLSAR team leader and her owner, said it had been particularly hard missing the beloved pet at Christmas.
"It's the little things - the quiet house, her bed empty, I've got a small family, a young family, and we've all missed her," he said.
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And after being reunited, he said: "We've been at the vets and they've told us that Juno's okay.
"I've been overwhelmed by the support of lowland rescue teams, both nationally and locally, and also from our friends and the local community."
He thanked all those who had been involved.
In a post on Facebook, NorLSAR said after she was spotted by the drone, a boat team was guided in to rescue her, and she was soon met by Mr Danks and the team.
"We are pleased to announce that she is in great spirits and being checked over," they said. "Her paws are slightly sore but she is now on her way back home."
They thanked all of those who shared social media posts trying to find her, with more than 7,500 shares which reached more than 500,000 people.
Juno is a German Shorthaired Pointer and has been involved in search operations across East Anglia since qualifying as a search dog in 2019.
She has been on operational call-outs in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. She has assisted in the recovery of a number of high-risk missing people and has helped return them to their families.
"She has helped raise thousands of pounds for charity and is the only qualified dog of her type in East Anglia and Cambridgeshire which is why she is so important," Mr Danks previously said.
An emotional moment
As the search continued, Mr Danks received a phone call - Juno had been spotted.
He waited nervously for confirmation that it was Juno, and that she was in good health.
And when that long-awaited news came, his first call was to his wife.
His voice cracking with emotion, he said: "I've got some really good news, they've found Juno and she's alive... She's alive, she's alive. I'm racing to get to her now, but she's alive."
Speaking about the rescue, Mr Wesley said: "We had three drone teams out today and I just happened to be the one that found the dog."
He added: "I didn't believe it at all - I zoomed in, I was probably flying at about 30 metres and she looked up at the drone as well, and she just sat there in a reed bed."
He said: "It was very doubtful we were going to find her alive."