A super-sniffing biosecurity detector dog started work at Wellington airport this week, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Meg, a beagle-labrador cross, and her handler Meggyn Bamford started in Wellington on Monday. They finished their training last week, along with 10 other biosecurity teams who have since started in Auckland and Christchurch.
The new team brings the number of detector dog teams patrolling the city’s international airport and port up to three.
“Meggyn and Meg 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.
Meg was gifted to MPI by a private owner in Christchurch.
“Her breeding combines the detection skills of two of the best sniffing dogs in the business, so we’re keen to see how she works out,” says Mr 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.”