Auckland Airport Sniffer Dog Grizz Shot And Killed After Delaying 16 Flights

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A puppy being trained to sniff for bombs at a New Zealand airport has been shot and killed after wandering into a secure area and causing several flight delays.

Grizz, a 10-month-old Bearded Collie-German Shorthaired Pointer mix, escaped from handlers in the early hours of March 15. He held up 16 different domestic and international flights while exploring the perimeter of the airport. Unable to call him back to the public area, airport staff chose to shoot the dog rather than delay flights any longer.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Airport staff spent 3 hours trying to capture the dog before they killed him. Inspector Tracy Phillips of Counties Manukau District Police said Aviation Security Service agents did all they could to handle the situation.

“Our thoughts are with the Avsec dog handler involved,” Phillips said. “This is not an outcome which anyone wanted, and police were only asked to be involved as a last resort.”

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The Guardian has reported that Grizz joined Avsec in May 2015, and under the guidance of handler Noel Thorburn, a 30-year veteran of customs and aviation security, was less than 6 months away from graduating training.

Hans Kriek, from the animal welfare group SAFE, derided airport staff for the violent decision.

“I suppose they didn’t have one [a tranquilliser], but that’s not an excuse,” Kriek said. “They said they were chasing the dog for three hours, surely they could have got one from Auckland Zoo.There was a non-lethal solution, they were not prepared. We expect that something is now put in place for future incidents.”


According to CNN, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said there were likely no non-lethal options considered.

“He was on an initial airport environment socialization program as part of his training. The airport Emergency Operations Center was activated and a full search was commenced,” the spokesman said. “We tried everything, food, toys, other dogs, but nothing would work. In these difficult circumstances the Airport’s Emergency Operations Center team decided to have the dog destroyed.”


The spokesman assured that there would be an investigation into the incident, and an answer to the question of why a tranquilizer gun was not used.

“Ultimately they have to call the police in to shoot the dog, and the police have access to tranquilizer guns, and there’s also a zoo nearby that would have one as well,” Kriek said. “So we don’t understand why they didn’t do that.”

The world may be mourning the loss of Grizz, but we can’t lose sight of the many other positive animal stories that crop up every day. Click the button below to read about one firefighter who wound up finding a new friend during an otherwise tragic call.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee. Find more about Matthew on his personal website.