Former cinematographer Douglas Thron now dedicates his life to traveling the world and using drone technology to locate and rescue cats from disaster zones.
Thron was inspired to begin his mission in 2018 when he documented the devastation of the California wildfires using aerial photography.
Thron created a Cannes nominated documentary called Fire Cats which followed the efforts of animal rescuers during the aftermath of the fires.
A mission begins
One of the subjects of the Fire Cats documentary was Shannon Jay, a man who was employing an infrared heat scope to locate cats in need of rescue. Thron realized that combining infrared heat-seeking technology with drones could pinpoint the location of trapped animals faster.
Upon recognizing the vital assistance he could give to rescue workers who were clearing and evacuating populated areas that had suffered destruction, he put a plan into action.
Thron raised funds to purchase several drones at $40,000 each that had built-in infrared heat sensors, as well as a 180x zoom lens and spotlight to assist Thron in pinpointing the exact location of a stranded or trapped cat.
Explaining to CBS News the way that this ground-breaking technology has transformed the act of animal rescue, Thron said:
“Now using the infrared drones with the zoom lens and spotlights, it’s like you have this emergency SWAT team from the sky dropping in on these animals and we can save many more animals using this.
It’s really exciting and we are rescuing countless animals with drones.”
Originally a Los Angeles native, Thron quickly realized that his technology was required across the globe, so he sold his home and set up base on a houseboat in Miami, and prepared to travel the world saving as many cats as possible.
Douglas Thron’s heroic work has now taken him from Australia to Africa and The Dominican Republic. Speaking with CBS News, Thron shared his excitement for what drone technology can offer animal rescuers, saying:
“I’m super excited to show off this technology and what the drones can do. I go to these natural disasters and there are hundreds of animals that need to be rescued.
Frequently in the past, rescue groups weren’t able to find the animals or get to them quickly enough.”
The mission continues
Douglas Thron is currently offering his assistance in Ukraine where he is helping to locate cats and dogs trapped in bombed-out buildings across Kyiv.
Thron has joined forces with the non-profit organization Paws of War whose volunteers have been on the ground rescuing animals caught up in the terrible Ukrainian conflict.