Paw-inspiring airport security

Archie and Andy Bruce and Bryn Belle and Zeta sml

4 September 2015

Queenstown Airport has gone to the dogs – literally!  With the airport growing at such a rapid rate, four new K9 teams have joined the airport’s ranks to boost border and passenger security.

Domestic and international travellers will now be greeted by a six-strong team of canine detectives for a friendly sniff-over to ferret out the likes of undeclared food, cash and illegal substances.  They’ll be deployed at key locations around the airport and will be highly visible at the Aviation Security departure screening point and the MPI Biosecurity international arrival checkpoint.

Aviation Security (AVSEC) has introduced three new dogs to Queenstown to speed up security screening following the expansion of its Explosive Detector Dog (EDD) programme.  Rather than relying solely on X-ray machines, wands and thermal imaging, Archie the Springer-Kelpie, Bruce the Collie-Huntaway, Kye the black Labrador and their respective handlers Andy, Bryn and Amon now provide a fast, reliable roving service for passenger, bag, aircraft and vehicle searches. 

AVSEC’s EDD programme will see Queenstown Airport become a training ground for rescue puppies sourced from the SPCA, pounds and rescue organisations around the country.

Over at MPI, superstar sniffer Zeta will be joined by eight-year old beagle Sam “The Fonz” and handler Deanna to ensure that no undeclared food, plants, animal products, or equipment which could cause a biosecurity threat to New Zealand gets past their keen noses.

The Customs frontline continues to be patrolled by a nationwide detector dog team tasked with sniffing out large quantities of cash or drugs being brought across the border.  More dogs are in training and will be ‘super subbed’ into Queenstown as required.

So where do our canine friends stay and play?  AVSEC has installed doggy daycare kennels next to its office and, like Customs, the dogs go home with their handlers at night.   The MPI dogs have plenty of social time during the day but because of the nature of their work they must be housed in a ‘clean’ environment devoid of household smells so are transferred to a palatial two-room doggy apartment after work.

Photo caption: (From left) Archie and Andy, Bruce and Bryn, Belle and Zeta