Two new biosecurity detector dog teams have started at Christchurch airport to sniff out risk goods carried by international travellers, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Anna Howie and Alice McKay started work on Monday. They finished their detector dog handler training in Auckland last week, along with 9 other new MPI handlers who have since started at Auckland and Wellington.
Anna will work detector dog Frank (labrador), originally sourced from an Australian customs breeding programme. Alice will work with Pip, a brand new labrador detector dog purchased from a private home in Hastings.
The new recruits bring the number of detector dog teams patrolling the city's international airport and port up to 6.
"The new teams will provide additional 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 MPI Border Clearance Services Director Steve Gilbert.
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."