An energetic chocolate-brown pointer called Daisy is among eight new detector dog teams that have started at Auckland this week to sniff out biosecurity items carried by international travellers.
The new teams (handler and dog) finished their biosecurity detector dog training last week, along with three other new teams that have since started at Auckland and Wellington.
“The additional teams will provide extra detector dog power as we gear up for a busy summer – both in terms of passenger numbers and the heightened risk of fruit fly, due to outbreaks in Australia and other parts of the Pacific,” says Steve Gilbert, the Ministry for Primary Industry’s Border Clearance Services Director.
The dog recruits includes beagles, labradors and Daisy, a short-haired pointer who was sourced from a Tokoroa dairy farm and is new to the job as a biosecurity detector dog.
“She has high-energy and likes to keep busy. These are qualities we look for in a detector dog,” says Mr Gilbert
It is the first time MPI has trained a pointer for biosecurity detection for nearly three years.
“Pointers were once used as active dogs in the international mail centre to scratch and bite when they detected risk items. We now use mostly labradors and beagles in a passive role to sit when they sniff an item. That way they can used with both passengers and mail.
MPI plans to introduce 24 new detector dog teams around New Zealand as part of a wider programme to strengthen biosecurity for arriving passengers.
“Detector dogs are a very effective biosecurity tool. They can pick up seeds and plants that can be hard to detect by x-ray.”
“They also screen people faster than x-ray, and their visual presence sends a message to arriving passengers about how seriously New Zealand takes biosecurity.”