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Shooting of Sniffer Dog at AKL Prompts Outcry

Shooting of Sniffer Dog at AKL Prompts Outcry
Jackie Reddy

Airport authorities say that the decision to shoot Grizz, a trainee sniffer dog, was not made lightly. Nevertheless, it has been met with considerable criticism.

An escaped sniffer dog was shot and killed by authorities at Auckland Airport (AKL) late this week, an incident which has prompted outcry from both the general public as well as from one of the country’s leading animal rights groups.

Airport authorities said that Grizz, the 10-month-old sniffer dog, was in the care of the national Aviation Security Service (Avsec) when the incident occurred in AKL’s landside area at 04:30 a.m. local time on Friday. Grizz was being loaded into a dog unit wagon when he escaped through a gate connected to AKL’s airside area and onto the tarmac.

Authorities tried without success to locate the dog in pre-dawn conditions. The dog’s escape caused delays and grounded 16 flights at AKL, the BBC reports. Grizz was located after a search of approximately two hours, but Mike Richards, Avsec spokesman, told the outlet that the mixed-breed dog, “would not let anyone near him and kept sprinting across runways.”

“We tried everything: food, toys, other dogs, but nothing would work,” Richards said, explaining that the area into which the dog had escaped was too large to secure with temporary fencing.

In the end, AKL authorities ordered Grizz to be shot. Speaking of the decision, an airport official said “We exhausted every option available and could not catch it [the dog].”

The decision prompted criticism from New Zealand animal rights group SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation) as well as outcry from the general public, with many expressing their displeasure at the incident on the facility’s Facebook page.

Many queried why a tranquilizer gun could not have been used to catch the dog, with a spokesperson for SAFE telling the New Zealand Herald that it was, “appalled about the needless killing of this dog.”

However, Callum Irvine, the head of vet services at the New Zealand Veterinary Association, explained the complexities of tranquilizing animals to Stuff. “If it’s not done right, a partially sedated animal can become even more distressed, and fearful and difficult to manage – and become even more of a danger to those around it,” he said.

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