An Aviation Security Services dog was shot dead by police after it was spooked and escaped its handler at Auckland International Airport this morning, causing runway delays.
Police shot the dog, named Grizz, at the direction of Auckland Airport staff.
"Auckland Airport staff directed police to shoot the Avsec dog, which was loose at the airport this morning," said Inspector Tracy Phillips.
"This followed considerable efforts over several hours by Avsec and airport staff to contain the dog after it was first reported to be loose at 4am.
"This is not an outcome anyone wanted, and police were only asked to be involved as a last resort."
Phillips referred all further enquiries Auckland Airport and Avsec.
A source said police staff and Grizz's handler are "absolutely devastated".
Avsec spokesman Mike Richards said: "All efforts to capture the dog were exhausted and the airport company had no option but to request police to shoot the dog."
"The handler and Avsec are naturally upset but do understand there were no other options, in the very difficult circumstances.
"The dog was not on the tarmac at the time."
Richards said Avsec will now "try and ascertain what spooked the dog and if this has any implications for ongoing training".
It is understood 16 domestic and international flights were delayed as ground staff tried to catch the animal after it broke away from its handler about 4am.
"The dog was clearly distressed and wouldn't let anyone near it so the decision was made to shoot the dog," airport spokeswoman Lisa Mulitalo said.
A police officer killed Grizz, a 10-month-old bearded collie-german short-haired pointer cross, which was in training to detect explosives.
"It had been on the outer perimeter of the airfield.
"It got loose at 4am and we spent three-and-a-half hours trying to catch him. They did everything they could, but unfortunately it had to be shot.
"It's really sad. It's a working dog and they are very important to us at the airport."