AUCKLAND, New Zealand March 18 2017 Police have shot dead a trainee bomb detector puppy that was running amok at Auckland Airport Friday, drawing condemnation from animal rights activists.
Bearded collie mix Grizz, 10 months old, was training to be an aviation security explosion detector when he escaped handlers, who spent hours trying to coax him away from the runway.
He was shot dead.
"A dog when first taken to an airport is going to hear some very loud and peculiar noises," said Nick Cave, director of the Working Dog Centre.
Grizz got spooked and ran as he was loaded into a van at 4:30 a.m.
He got to a secure area when a truck passed through a security gate. The airport's emergency operations centre was activated.
"That wasn't three hours of cosy time curled up somewhere," Cave said. "That three hours in a very strange environment."
The dog unit did all they could to recover him, Cave said.
"He would not let anyone near him and kept sprinting across the runways," Cave said. "We tried everything, food, toys other dogs, but nothing would work. The area is too vast and too open."
Authorities said shooting Grizz was a last resort, but animal welfare activists are critical.
"They were trying to catch a dog for three hours, that gives them ample time to locate a tranquilizer gun and solve the problem," said Hans Kriek, an animal welfare activist.
The incident delayed 16 flights in and out of the airport.
It costs a $100,000 to get dogs like Grizz work-ready. He had six months to go before becoming a fully fledged aviation security dog.
"It's not just shooting a tool that happens to be a dog," Cave said. "It is the shooting of a highly valued and very precious individual that is very precious to these people."
The handlers at the dog unit are all shaken by the incident. Aviation security is investigating.