PHOTO: The runway at Auckland Airport. (photo via Flickr/Ewan Munro)
Police at the Auckland Airport in New Zealand are dealing with backlash after they shot and killed a young security dog that escaped its handler and ran loose on a tarmac, delaying at least 16 flights on Friday.
According to The Associated Press, the young dog named Grizz was in the process of being trained to detect explosives by New Zealand's Aviation Security Service. He was about six months away from graduating.
New Zealand Police Inspector Tracy Phillips released a statement that claimed the security service and airport staff worked for more than three hours to capture the dog, but failed. The police were called in as a last resort and shot the dog to death.
“This is not an outcome which anyone wanted,” Inspector Phillips told The AP.
Grizz was a 10-month-old bearded collie and German short-haired pointer mix. The dog ran away from its handler as it was being loaded into a van and made its way to the tarmac after a security gate was opened to let a truck pass through.
Staff at the airport tried for hours to persuade the dog back into captivity by using toys, other dogs, food and a range of handlers, but nothing worked.
Animal rights activists are now asking police why deadly force was used instead of tranquilizers.
“A tranquillizer gun should have been used after efforts to catch the dog failed,” New Zealand animal rights organization, Safe, spokesman told the New Zealand Herald. “If such a gun was not available - which it should - then they could have borrowed one from Auckland Zoo or elsewhere.”
While animal rights activists stood strongly against the decision to shoot the dog, others defended the decision.
“There just isn't ready access to tranquilizer 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,” New Zealand Veterinary Association head of vet services Callum Irvine told New Zealand's Stuff website.