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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Dog-Locating Drone Flying Over Houston

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People have come up with a lot of uses for drones over the past several years. We’ve harnessed the power of these miniature, helicopter-esque devices to do things like instantly deliver packages, film artful (NSFW) adult films, and drop burritos on our doorsteps. Now a group in Houston is using drone-mounted cameras to locate as many of Houston’s estimated 1.2 million stray dogs as possible for a TV pilot to air early this summer.

The World Animal Awareness Society, a Michigan-based nonprofit focused on documenting human-animal interaction, has intervened in Houston’s stray dog problem in the past, but this most recent drone project is part of a new Awareness Society TV show called Operation Houston: #StrayDogCity. According to USA Today, the show will be an up-close look into the city’s mounting stray dog problem and the volunteers working to help solve it.

Houston is notorious for having one of the largest populations of strays in the country. Although there are volunteer groups that help to curb the problem, like South Side Street Dogs and Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward, the city’s stray population is so large that it’s surpassed Animal Control’s ability to respond to the high call volume.

So even though the World Awareness Society will be using the 4K, ultra-high-definition footage captured by the drones to create a television show, the group is focused on actually rescuing as many dogs as it can in the process. Starting March 6, the Animal Awareness Society started collecting Houston-based volunteers to help with a “Canine Survey” that aids the group in tracking the number and approximate location of some of the city’s strays.

The highly detailed survey method involves tracking the number of stray dogs per kilometer using software designed for Android smartphones. The Awareness Society says estimating the total roaming dog population, especially in a city as big as Houston, would be much more difficult and less relevant than tracking a figure like strays per kilometer.

Drones will be buzzing over the city from March 20 through March 30, and the volunteer survey takes place during the last few days, from March 27 to the 29.

While the thought of airborne HD cameras flying overhead through Houston neighborhoods might be a little unsettling for people who enjoy their privacy, the drones are to be used strictly for dog locating and filming purposes, not spying on whatever it is Houstonians are doing in their backyards. Think of it as a Google Maps car, but in the sky.​

(Photograph courtesy of ThinkStock.)

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