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Shooting of New Zealand airport sniffer dog sparks outrage

by Shake Paws

Police at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport shot a 10-month-old trainee sniffer dog after it escaped from its handler and caused planes to be delayed

New Zealand police sparked outrage when they shot dead an escaped trainee sniffer dog at Auckland Airport.

Police took action after the 10-month-old bearded collie and German shorthaired pointer cross called Grizz prevented planes from taking off.

Sixteen domestic and international flights were delayed for safety reasons at the country’s busiest airport while the dog was on the loose for three hours, Auckland Airport spokeswoman Lisa Mulitalo, told Reuters.

“The dog was clearly distressed and wouldn’t let anyone near it so the decision was made to shoot the dog,” she said.

The dog was reportedly not on the tarmac but on the airfield’s outer perimeter.

Grizz, who was in training to detect explosives, was shot by a police marksman, according to Mike Richards, a spokesman for New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service.

“Of course it was dark for most of the time it was on the run, they tried everything they could, but just couldn’t lure the dog back, I think it was just freaked out,” he said.

“The handler and Avsec (Aviation Security Services) are naturally upset but do understand there were no other options, in the very difficult circumstances.”

New Zealand animal rights organisation Safe said the shooting of Grizz was “needless”, the New Zealand Herald reported.

“A tranquilliser gun should have been used after efforts to catch the dog failed. If such a gun was not available – which it should [have been] – then they could have borrowed one from Auckland Zoo or elsewhere,” spokesman Hans Kriek said.

“We hope that lessons will be learned from this and that better systems will be put in place to avoid such unnecessary killing in the future.”

Hilary Barry, a host on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme, also asked why a tranquiliser gun was not used.

“One of them got spooked at Auckland airport and went a bit cray-cray and was running around on the tarmac. So? It’s only Auckland airport. Sixteen flights were delayed. So?” she said.

“So they shot it! They shot it dead. They’ve got to have tranquiliser guns, surely. They shot the dog dead. I don’t care if your plane was delayed, they don’t need to shoot the dog.”

The airport’s Facebook page was also inundated with posts criticising the decision to shoot the animal.