Animal lovers are shocked and appalled at the action of New Zealand police in gunning down an explosive sniffing dog – a trainee pup aged 10 months – because it escaped its handler and delayed flights at Auckland Airport.
“Unfortunately still delays @AKL_Airport due to dog on our airfield updates to follow,” Auckland Airport tweeted before the incident.
Ground staff tried to catch the runaway dog, which was spooked and had escaped its handler early in the morning. The dog, a bearded collie/german short-haired pointer cross named Grizz, was said to have delayed 16 domestic and international flights.
Tweet issued before Grizz was shot
Then the shocking news broke. The airport had directed police to shoot the dog.
A Twitter-storm erupted:
- “Embarrassed to be a kiwi today. Killing a dog so flights can continue Auckland Airport. No excuse! Disgusting #poordog #aucklandairport.”
- “Rest in peace little Grizz. I’m so sorry this happened to you. Auckland Airport should be ashamed.”
- “@Animal_Legal Why wasn’t the poor dog tranquilised? I would expect this in Trump’s America, not New Zealand.”
- “As a dog lover, I find this disgusting.”
- “Hey Auckland Airport, ever heard of a tranquiliser gun!!!??? RIP little Grizz.”
- “Just read about that 10-month-old trainee police dog being shot at Auckland Airport & now my week is ruined.”
Auckland Airport has announced it will carry out a review the circumstances leading to Grizz’s death.
“The event was difficult for the whole airport team, particularly for the agencies and staff who tried to do everything they could to capture the dog,” the airport said in a media statement. “Everyone involved in airport operations understands how important working dogs are to the safe and secure operation of airports.
“The Emergency Operations Centre team, which includes representatives of the border agencies, airlines, ground handlers and New Zealand Police, made their difficult decision only after they exhausted all the viable options available to them.
“We understand and acknowledge the strong community response to the decision, and our thoughts continue to be first and foremost with the Aviation Security Service dog handler, his colleagues, and all those who were involved in yesterday’s events.
“Auckland Airport will be conducting its own review of the events and will liaise closely with the Aviation Security Service, which is also conducting a review.”
Grizz was in training to detect explosives. According to the NZ Aviation Security Service (Avsec) website, the dogs are specially trained to sniff for explosives and explosive materials rather than drugs or food.
The dogs and their handlers “do a very important job protecting travellers, airline crew, airport workers and New Zealand at large by ensuring that no dangerous materials are present on aircraft or in our airports,” Avsec says.
“They are based at the main airports: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown. Our dog teams search for any explosives in car parks, navigation facilities, unattended cars and unattended items/bags, cargo, and aircraft. They also conduct random searches around the airport environment, at check in counters, screening points, and gate lounges. By being visible they can act as a deterrent for any wrongdoers.
Sniffer dog cartoon on NZ Avsec’s website
“They also help other agencies like the Police, Customs and Corrections when there are bomb threats at airports as well as other places.
“Our dog teams are mobile, quick and the most reliable and cost-effective way of detecting explosives. Teams undergo a 10 week training course and graduate from the Police Dog Training Centre as ‘Operational’.
“To be suitable for our program the dogs need to be happy, confident, sociable, love to play with toys, with no aggression.”
There are 22 dogs in the team and NZ Aviation Security Service features them all on its website.
Written by Peter Needham