Mysterious Group Rescues Dogs From Lava in Spain

How they pulled it off remains a mystery

La Palma
La Palma, Spain.
Steve Mullins/Unsplash

No one likes to see an animal in danger, and it’s not hard to find newsworthy accounts of people risking their lives to save a dog or cat from a fire. But in the case of the Spanish island of La Palma, the situation putting animals in a treacherous position was a lot more widespread than an isolated building on fire. Due to a recent volcanic eruption, the island has been contending with lava flows for the last month — something that’s had a destructive effect on the island’s buildings and agriculture.

As NPR’s Bill Chappell reports, the lava also resulted in a group of dogs being trapped on part of the island without an easy method of rescuing them. Local authorities had been using drones to get food and water to the dogs. They’d planned to use drones to airlift them off the island as well, right up until the point when they realized that someone had already done so.

The nonprofit group Leales had been involved with the rescue effort, and posted a video of what they discovered while exploring the area with drones: a banner indicating that the dogs had been rescued, signed “the A-Team.”

Leales received a video from an anonymous source featuring drone footage of the island. According to NPR’s article, the organization speculated that thermal imaging might have been used to determine a safe way to get to the dogs. As for more details on the rescue, though, Leales is waiting to discover more about how it was accomplished and where the dogs currently are.

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