Auckland Airport shoots runaway security dog after it delays morning flights
CRAIG HOYLE AND NICOLE LAWTON
Last updated 17:14, March 17 2017
Three new Aviation Security puppies in May 2016, including Grizz.
Firing a tranquiliser gun to stop a dog running loose on Auckland Airport tarmac was “implausible”, an expert vet says.
Grizz, an Aviation Security dog, was shot early on Friday morning after escaping from his handlers.
His escape caused lengthy delays for more than a dozen flights.
Forget the review, don’t shoot the dog, says the Breakfast host.
Airport staff spent three hours trying to catch him without any success, and eventually asked police to shoot him so that flights could resume.
His death has shocked commentators, including TVNZ’s Hilary Barry, who suggested authorities should have tranquilised the dog instead of killing him.
“‘No one likes to see that sort of thing.” Passengers at Auckland Airport weigh in on this morning’s controversial decision to shoot an airport security dog.
But Callum Irvine, head of vet services at the New Zealand Veterinary Association, has poured cold water on those claims, saying they were unrealistic.
“There just isn’t ready access to tranquiliser guns and darts in New Zealand, and even if authorities did manage to get their hands on one in time, there are so many other factors to take into consideration, like how close the animal is, the animal’s weight, age, and how much adrenaline was also running through the body.”
Irvine, a vet of 19 years, said although vets have access to sedative drugs as part of routine practice, most wouldn’t carry tranquiliser darts or guns because there isn’t usually much need for them.
“The bottom line is that probably no vet clinic in the country actually has or uses tranquiliser guns or darts anymore.
“The only place that you might see a tranquiliser gun used is in a wildlife park or in a zoo, and even then, very rarely – it’s a fairly crude form of delivery of sedation.”
He said guns and darts are designed for animals that are already enclosed, so the shooter would have to get quite close to the animal in order to hit it.
“We don’t know the circumstances under which the dog was shot this morning – but the reality is that it administering sedative to an animal on the loose can be very difficult.”
There was also no guarantee the animal was going to respond in a certain way.
“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.”
Grizz’s handler said he was “very upset” after the dog was shot dead.
Nicky Thorburn posted on Facebook, saying that his father was the Avsec handler in charge of Grizz at the time.
“It was a last resort, my dad is very upset about this,” he said.
“I’m reading disgusting comments . . . and people need to understand how traumatising and upsetting this was for him.
“Please have compassion.”
Thorburn said his father, Noel Thorburn, had worked in customs and aviation security for more than thirty years, and was considered one of the best at what he did.
Airport spokeswoman Lisa Mulitalo said Grizz was only killed as a last resort.