A local dog search volunteer has been forced to quit after her latest dog rescue led to a torrent of threats and online abuse.
Erica Hart had been using her drone to locate people’s missing pets for three years when a family in Woodland started a smear campaign against her.
Erica Hart, fondly known as the ‘Drone Lady’, thought nothing was out of the ordinary when she went to retrieve a missing dog from a family on a Travellers site in Woodland. The family made an agreement with Ms Hart and the dogs were returned.
But then things took a turn for the worse. The family started contacting people who’s dogs were missing, blaming Ms Hart and put her name and address all over Facebook accusing her of being a dog thief.
Ms Hart said: “I’ve had people randomly turning up at my door saying I’ve got their dog… I’ve had a knife left on my doorstep.
“I’ve had to stop, it’s not worth my life, it’s not worth my dog’s life”.
Ms Hart began volunteering due to her love for dogs and a spout of poor mental health, saying: “I got suicidal, I felt down in life so went on YouTube, looked at what good I could do and just went from there… it changed my life”.
In just three years she found over 200 dogs without ever asking for a penny.
Ms Hart was so revered by the local dog searching community that, earlier this year, a GoFundMe page, under the name ‘The Drone Lady’ was set up and raised over £400. This funded batteries for her drone and walkie-talkies to assist her in her dog searching.
Several of Ms Hart’s contacts in the dog searching community have also recently quit because of threats from dog thieves.
According to Ms Hart the family in Woodland have targeted another volunteer who is: “so terrified that she’s had to move out of Doncaster”.
Pets Reunited have published that as of today there are 35 missing pets in Doncaster, 31 in Rotherham and 59 in Sheffield. These numbers will only increase if these attacks on dog search volunteers aren’t stopped.