Airport doggy digs

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New home: Handler Rachel Thurbon and puppy pal Fritz the beagle at Queenstown Airport's new dog facility

They stop biosecurity threats from getting past our borders, and now Queenstown’s superstar sniffer dogs have a swanky new home.

Biosecurity beagles Fritz and Guinness have moved into a new facility at Queenstown Airport, which includes a 30sqm building and 45sqm outdoor run.

Fritz’s handler, Rachel Thurbon, says the new facility makes it easier for the pooches to be washed and given their weekly health checks, as well as giving them somewhere to relax and get some outside exercise.

“It makes a huge difference,” she says.

“It gives them space to relax, which is important because they work really hard.”

Since July 2017, Thurbon says they’ve seized more than 550 biosecurity hazards from travellers.

That includes everything from dead Huntsman spiders to mouldy ham sandwiches.

Thurbon, who’s a senior detector dog handler, says the job’s “very rewarding”.

“You get out of it what you put in.

“If you’re willing to put in the hard graft it’s great, every flight’s different, every passenger’s different in their own way.”

An airport spokeswoman says the dog rest area is part of Stage 1 of the Border Agency Space Management Area project, which is part of the larger Project Pathway programme.

Stage 1 included creating a shared agency meeting space and a new and expanded Customs lab, she says.

Stages 2 and 3 will start at the end of March and are due for completion in April.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz