A drone operation was set to rescue several dogs from the Spanish island of La Palma, where they've been stranded in a yard surrounded by lava after a volcano eruption that's been going on for more than a month. There'd even been a test run that went well, and plans ramped up to swoop in to save the pups, except for one problem: They're not there anymore. Instead, a mystery group calling themselves the "A Team" has whisked them away, and the drone company that was supposed to carry out the mission is scratching its head.
"The main thing is that, one way or another, the dogs have got out," Jaime Pereira, CEO of drone firm Aerocamaras, tells the Guardian of the vanished canines in the town of Todoque. The company did an initial drone search for the dogs on Wednesday and didn't see any sign of them, though initially the thought was that maybe the dogs were hiding due to the heat, per El Pais. Oddly, however, a drone search with thermal cameras did spot human footprints near the site, and on Thursday, a video emerged online, showing a sign dangling near where the dogs had been hunkered down.
"Stay strong, La Palma," the sign read. "The dogs are fine." It was signed by the "A Team," an apparent reference to the fictional Special Forces unit featured in the popular '80s TV show of the same name. Pereira says his drone had noticed the sign, but the wind had blown it so it was unreadable. "Who let the dogs out?" headlines are now circulating, with some wondering a) how the dogs were rescued, and b) why the "A Team" decided to do it secretly.
On that first question, an animal activist group says it thinks the mystery rescuers may have used a drone's thermal cameras to find a "cold" path through the lava, per NPR. On the second question, the going theory is that the group didn't want to get into trouble for illegally venturing into the exclusion zone. Pereira just has one wish at this point. "All we want to do now is see the dogs, check that they're OK," he tells the Guardian. A source from the broadcaster that aired the video tells local media the dogs are indeed fine, as the sign declared. (Read more La Palma stories.)