“Do they not have a tranquilizer gun? I’m not happy. There was no need to shoot the dog.” That was the opinion voiced by New Zealand news announcer Hilary Barry after an Auckland Airport dog was shot dead after getting loose on the airfield and delaying flights.
The border collie/ german shorthair pointer cross had been training with the Aviation Security Service at Auckland Airport when he escaped at around 4:30 am on March 16, 2017, according to a report by 1 News.
The handlers and staff tried for three hours to lure Grizz off the tarmac with food, toys, dogs and other means, but were unsuccessful.
About 16 domestic and international flights were delayed while the airport staff tried to get a hold of Grizz.
After they were unable to get a hold of the young dog, the airport staff requested police intervene and directed officers to shoot the dog. Police Inspector Tracy Phillips said, “This is not an outcome which anyone wanted, and police were only asked to be involved as a last resort.”
The decision has provoked angry responses globally, and many New Zealanders have questioned why the dog was not simply shot with a tranquilizer gun instead.
Since the incident, the son of the handler said that “It was a last resort, my dad is very upset about this.” He had been reviewing people’s comments on social media and added, “I’m reading disgusting comments…and people need to understand how traumatizing and upsetting this was for him.”
Several commentators believe the airport was unprepared. “There was a non-lethal solution, they were not prepared,” Hans Kriek, a spokesman for the animal welfare group SAFE said. “I suppose they didn’t have one [a tranquilizer], but that’s not an excuse. They said they were chasing the dog for three hours, surely they could have got one from Auckland Zoo.” He added, “We expect that something is now put in place for future incidents.”
The sad outcome continues to spark debate as to the handling of of the incident.
Grizz was six months away from graduating from his training.