New Zealand police sparked an angry backlash by shooting dead a runaway sniffer dog at Auckland Airport. A marksman decided to take the 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 New Zealand’s busiest airport for three hours while the dog was on the loose, Lisa Mulitalo, a spokeswoman for Auckland Airport, told Reuters.
The dog was killed on the outer perimeter of the airfield, when it was in training to detect explosives.
Lisa Mulitalo, a spokeswoman for Auckland Airport, said: “The dog was clearly distressed and wouldn’t let anyone near it so the decision was made to shoot the dog.”
Mike Richards, a spokesman for New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service said: “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. The handler and Avsec (Aviation Security Services) are naturally upset but do understand there were no other options, in the very difficult circumstances.”
But national animal rights group ‘Safe’ said the shooting was “needless”, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Spokesman Hans Kriek said: “A tranquillizer gun should have been used after efforts to catch the dog failed. If such a gun was not available – which it should – then they could have borrowed one from Auckland Zoo or elsewhere. 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.”
The airport’s Facebook page was also flooded with posts criticizing the decision to shoot the animal. The dog’s handler, Noel Thorburn, is said to be “very upset” by the shooting but understood that it was a “last resort”.