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WELLINGTON, 17 March 2017:
Flights from New Zealand’s Auckland Airport are returning to schedule after a runaway dog near the tarmac was shot dead by police because it was delaying planes taking off.
Sixteen domestic and international flights were delayed for safety reasons at the nation’s busiest airport since 4.30am – while the dog was on the loose for three hours, said a spokeswoman for Auckland Airport, Lisa Mulitalo.
“The dog was clearly distressed and wouldn’t let anyone near it so the decision was made to shoot the dog,” she said.
A police marksman killed the 10-month-old bearded-collie and German shorthaired pointer cross called Grizz, which was in training to detect explosives, said Mike Richards, a spokesman for New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service.
“Of course it was dark for most of the time it was on the run, they tried everything they could, but just couldn’t lure the dog back, I think it was just freaked out.”
Mulitalo said the backlog of delayed flights would likely be cleared during the morning.
Nicky Thorburn posted on Facebook 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.
Members of the public questioned why he wasn’t knocked out with tranquilisers.
TVNZ‘s Hilary Barry asked: “Do they not have a tranquiliser gun? I don’t care if your plane is delayed. You don’t need to shoot the dog”.
Renee Scott posted on the Stuff Facebook page: “Surely the more humane thing if desperate would be to maybe tranquillise if really and truly necessary.”
Fran Calverley agreed: “Why couldn’t they shoot it with a knockout drug?”
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