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Firefighter Uses Drone to Reunite Family With Lost Dog

One day in December, Karen Hsu took her family’s Shiba Inu on a walk around her neighborhood, during which the dog ran off. For the next 24 hours, they searched and searched with no luck.

(TNS) — With a dog on one side and a drone on the other, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. handed Harvard Fire Department firefighter and drone operator Robert Curran the District Attorney’s Team Excellence and Merit, or TEAM, Award on Monday for helping a Devens family reunite with their beloved pup Toro.

Curran met with the Hsu family once again, with Toro alongside, to receive the award from Early outside the Harvard fire station.

“It is just one of those things that as a firefighter and as a dog owner, I can relate to people desperately looking for their dog,” Curran said.

Early praised first responders for showing “their care and commitment” to finding different ways in which they can help the neighborhoods and communities they serve.

“He used his knowledge of drones, a skill he uses for the town, and decided to act with his personal drone for one reason, to help someone in need,” Early said. “It is the hallmark of first responders.”

On Dec. 17, 2022, Karen Hsu took the family’s Shiba Inu on a walk around her neighborhood with the dog ran off. For the next 24 hours, they searched and searched with no luck in finding Toro. When Curran heard what happened, messaged Karen’s daughter Vicky and said he would use his personal drone to search for Toro.

Vicky and Karen gave Curren the location where they last saw Toro, near the Fort Devens Museum. Curran’s drone used thermal imaging before he focused on a white spot with fur and a red collar.

“There he was,” Curran said Monday.

With his leash stuck in some brush, Curran called the family and they picked up Toro together. Vicky said she was shocked and so grateful for Curran reaching out to help find their beloved dog.

“I honestly don’t think we would have found Toro without Robert,” she said. “Toro is part of the family. It could have easily been a worst-case scenario of never finding him. Without Robert, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Family member Matt Detora praised Curran and the drone, and added that the family was making posters the day after Toro went missing before the firefighter called the family with good news. Finding Toro put what looked like an “endless, unsuccessful search to rest,” Detora said.

“I want to thank my wife, who puts up with me running out the door when a fire calls or looking for lost dogs at a moment’s notice, interrupting many a dinners and many family activities,” Curran quipped.

Curran also thanked the Harvard community for supporting everything the department does with finding new ways to help people in an emergency.

“It’s a new technology, it’s a new tool for us and it’s great to be in a community that allows us to expand our ability to serve and protect our community,” Curran said. “I should probably point out – I want to thank the neighbors right around me that are probably used to drones going up at all hours while I practice my skills. They put up with a lot of buzzing in their ears.”

Finally, Early provided Toro with a stuffed bone with the Worcester County District Attorney’s seal on one side. Ever excited, Toro left a bit of white stuffing sticking out by the conclusion of Monday’s ceremony.

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