The Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed the security dog who was shot and killed at Auckland Airport was still in training at the time of his death.
According to the authority, the 10-month-old trainee detector dog named ‘Grizz' escaped his handler while being loaded into the back of car at the airport on Friday at about 4.30am.
The Bearded Collie/German short haired Pointer cross was at the airport at the time of the shooting as part of a socialisation programme that was part of his on-the-job training.
After escaping his handler, Grizz managed to get through the security area when a gate opened to let a truck through.
The CAA says they tried multiple methods, including food, toys and other dogs, to capture Grizz but nothing worked. They were also hampered by the fact it was dark at the time of the incident, and because the trainee dog didn't have a permanent handler.
Airport staff then directed police officers to shoot Grizz after three hours of trying to catch him. The decision has been described as a ‘last resort'.
Grizz's death has sparked an outpouring of outrage, with many questioning why airport staff didn't attempt non-lethal methods to capture the dog.
Animal rights group SAFE's ambassador Hans Kriek says he is “appalled and bewildered” and that the use of a tranquilliser would have been a simple solution.
“I suppose they didn't have one [a tranquilliser], but that's not an excuse. They said they were chasing the dog for three hours, surely they could've got one from Auckland Zoo.”
There were lessons to be learnt, he added, saying the airport had to get a tranquilliser gun.
“There was a non-lethal solution, they were not prepared. We expect that something is now put in place for future incidents.”
The cost of training dogs like Grizz, who was only six months away from graduating, is about $100,000.
About 16 domestic and international flights were delayed due to the incident.