New biosecurity detector dog teams start at New Zealand airport

Two new dog teams started on Monday at Christchurch International Airport in New Zealand, doubling the airport's previous capacity of biosecurity dog detectors, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Stephen James and Jemma Grant became graduates on Friday from a dog handler training program along with 46 other new biosecurity frontline staff. James will work with Vinnie, an experienced beagle, to detect exotic diseases and pests that could pose a risk for biosecurity in New Zealand. Grant will work with Rogue, a six-year-old detector dog,

Grant and James will work at the airport in addition to the local port.

"The new staff we have just deployed across the country will bring MPI's biosecurity frontline up to full strength and will help the ministry meet the demands of the busy summer peak season," Steve Gilbert, the airport's border clearance services manager, said, according to

Gilbert said that the use of detector dog teams is necessary for detecting bioterror risks when used with other detection systems.

"No tool is sufficient to manage biosecurity by itself," Gilbert said, according to "Dogs are good at picking 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 is a significant factor."