FAQs related to Campaigns & Activities
The dogs are used to detect items of quarantine concern. They are trained to search baggages, mail and cargo to locate undeclared or forgotten agricultural products.
Most of the handlers will take their operational dogs home as pets when they retire from active duties, however if the handlers are unable to keep their dogs then they are offered back to their original puppy walking families. A number of these families have waited patiently until their dogs retirement. There is also a large list of eager people wanting to take the retired dogs home.
All the prospective homes are thoroughly checked and the dogs then placed with their new families on the understanding that if there are any problems the dogs may be returned. So far none of the retired dogs have been returned and all lead a very happy and well earned retirement with their new families
This can happen, firstly we may offer the dog back to the puppy walker. If that person is unable to have the dog we then find an approved suitable home for the dog. From previous experiences, we have often had waiting lists of staff, airline employees and others that work around the airport. These are generally people who have seen the dogs working and are keen to have one as a pet. They often have their favourites.
The dogs respond either in a passive manner by simply sitting next to the baggage containing contraband, or in an active manner by retrieving the item. The dogs will then be rewarded for any correct responses. Response behaviour is trained through the use of operant conditioning - passive response detector dogs will be rewarded with food, active response dogs are rewarded with a toy and a game.
Statistically only one in every twelve dogs meet the temperament and medical criteria.
Only dogs between the ages of one and three are considered for training. The dogs are temperament tested in an airport environment to assess their reactions to the work area. Dogs that readily accept the unfamiliar sights and sounds are then given a comprehensive medical exam. This is to ensure the dogs are fit for the duty that they are about to undertake. They must have a high food, prey and play drive.
The dogs work mainly at the International Airports around the country. They are also based at the Auckland International Mail Centre, and work on various cruise ships docking at our wharfs.
Plants and plant products. e.g. assorted fruits, vegetables, bulbs, flowers, leaves and seeds.
Animals and animal products. e.g. meats, eggs, live birds, reptiles.