An airport security dog was shot dead after it ran onto the tarmac and delayed 16 flights at Auckland Airport on Friday morning.
The Aviation Security Services dog named Grizz became spooked and escaped his handler at about 4.30am.
Grizz evaded airport staff for more than three hours while they attempted to lure him in with toys and food, before calling police and fire services.
Flashlights and eight trucks were used in the pre-dawn search effort for the ten-month-old Border Collie and German Shorthaired Pointer cross, according to NZ Herald.
— Frank Chung (@franks_chung) March 16, 2017
Grizz was ushered off the tarmac after he delayed more than a dozen flights and airport staff asked police to shoot him soon after.
Grizz was still in training and escaped his handler while being loaded into the back of a wagon, Aviation Security Service spokesman Mike Richards said.
‘He managed to get airside when a gate opened to let a truck through.
‘He did not have a permanent handler so was less responsive than a dog with a permanent handler.’
Questions remain over why airport staff asked police officers to kill Grizz after they reported via Twitter that the dog had been caught.
Unfortunately an Aviation Security dog was shot this morn @AKL_Airport staff had tried for 3 hours to catch it our thoughts are with handler
— Auckland Airport (@AKL_Airport) March 16, 2017
‘When he was located he would not let anyone near him and kept sprinting across the runways,’ Mr Richards said.
‘We tried everything; food, toys, other dogs, but nothing would work.’
Mr Richards said that they requested police to shoot the dog after all efforts to capture him ‘were exhausted.’
‘The handler and Avsec are naturally upset but do understand there were no other options in the very difficult circumstances,’ he said.
Staff said that neither the nation’s largest airport or police had a tranquiliser gun and a dog handler was unable to catch Grizz.
Moses Roberts was flying to Christchurch and livestreamed from the stranded plane during a 35 minute delay.
‘The pilot gave us three updates and staff handed out refreshments while we were delayed,’ Mr Roberts told Daily Mail Australia.
‘They didn’t mention he had been shot.’
The decision to have the dog killed has affected travellers who feel that the decision was made to minimise the delay.
‘I feel really sad for the dog. I had a lot to get back to but I would never kill a dog just because I was in a hurry.
‘I feel as though Auckland Airport made that decision for me and now that dog’s blood is on my hands by proxy.’
Avsec dogs are trained to detect explosives and act as a ‘deterrent for any wrongdoers,’ Avsec said.
‘These teams do a very important job protecting travellers, airline crew, airport workers and New Zealand at large by ensuring that no dangerous materials are present on aircraft or in our airports.’
Mr Richards said that the escape may have implications in the future training of Avsec dogs.
The shooting came only two days after a New Zealand memorial was unveiled for police dogs killed in the line of duty.
The memorial wall has the names of 24 dogs who have been killed since 1972.
1News TV host Hilary Barry was outraged by the shooting and asked why the airport did not have a tranquilser gun.
‘They’ve got to have tranquiliser guns, surely?
‘I don’t care if your plane’s delayed, they don’t need to shoot the dog – I’m not happy.’
Auckland Airport has received heavy backlash on social media from people saying they failed their duty of care by ordering Grizz to be shot.
Some have drawn comparisons to Harambe – the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla who was shot dead in 2016 after a child fell into his enclosure.
‘NZ has it’s Harambe – a dog called Grizz,’ one man said.
Another man said the airport failed their ‘duty of care’ if they didn’t contact a vet, the Auckland Zoo or dog control units.