People are upset after police shot a dog on the run at Auckland Airport in New Zealand.

The dog, named Grizz, had been on the loose for three hours after it was spooked and ran away from its AVSEC (Aviation Security Service) handler on Friday morning.

There was plenty of anger on the internet from people who believed Grizz’s death was unnecessary and wondered why a tranquilizer wasn’t used instead.

Police confirmed they were directed to shoot Grizz by Auckland Airport staff, after AVSEC said it did what it could to try and capture the dog.

“Our thoughts are with the AVSEC dog handler involved. This is not an outcome which anyone wanted, and police were only asked to be involved as a last resort,” Inspector Tracy Phillips, Counties Manukau District, said in a statement.

Grizz was a 10-month-old bearded collie/German shorthaired pointer cross, which had been in training to detect explosives. It had six months left until graduation.

The dog was first reported to be on the loose at 4 a.m., managing to escape while it was being loaded into the back of the AVSEC Explosive Detector Dog Unit wagon. It then managed to make its way to the tarmac.

“It was difficult to search as most of the time it was dark,” AVSEC spokesperson Mike Richards said.

Airport officers and police had tried “everything” including “toys, food, and other dogs” to try and get Grizz under control

Airport officers and police had tried “everything” including “toys, food, and other dogs” to try and get Grizz under control. Sixteen flights were delayed in the time Grizz was being recovered.

“When he was located he would not let anyone near him and kept sprinting across the runways,” Richards said. “He did not have a permanent handler so was less responsive than a dog with a permanent handler.”

Mobile fencing was not an option, due to the vast and open area Grizz had escaped in. 

“AVSEC and the handler and members of the Explosive Detector Dog Unit are naturally quite shaken but understand the reasons for the decision,” said Richards. 

“AVSEC  will undertake a review of the incident to try and ascertain what spooked the dog and if this has any implications for ongoing training.”

New Zealand animal rights organisation SAFE said it was disappointed at the choice to shoot Grizz.

“We believe that a tranquilizer gun should have been used instead of lethal force,” SAFE ambassador Hans Kriek said. 

“We hope that this incident will lead to better protocols being put in place so that in future these type of events will be handled more humanely.”

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