'It's not his fault' - son of dog handler speaks out after companion Grizz shot dead at Auckland Airport

A relative of the man who was handling the dog shot at Auckland Airport this morning has spoken out, saying the incident was a "tragic accident".

Noel Thorburn was handling Grizz at the border early this morning when the canine escaped onto the airfield.

Forget the review, don’t shoot the dog, says the Breakfast host. Source: Breakfast

After a three hour chase, police were controversially ordered to shoot the dog.

The dog had been training with the Aviation Security Service at Auckland Airport, and was just six months away from graduating.

Speaking about his father Noel, Nicky Thorburn says people need to understand that Grizz's death was a tragic accident.

Passengers at Auckland Airport weigh in on this morning’s controversial decision to shoot the airport security dog. Source: 1 NEWS

"He has over 30 years experience with dogs and they are his passion. His job is to serve and protect our airport and people are disrespecting him for that" he said.

Nicky says his father is loved by his collegues at customs, and he wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone a dog.

The dog was a border collie and german shorthair pointer cross.

Earlier AVSEC spokesperson Mike Richards told 1 NEWS that Grizz slipped his handler at around 4.30am today.

After several hours trying to capture the canine in the dark, airport authorities made the decision for police to shoot the dog.

Grizz was not on the tarmac when it was shot.

Mr Richards he said security staff had pursued all avenues and unfortunately shooting the canine was the last option.

He said despite the public outcry, their first priority was comforting staff and they would not be speaking publicly.

When approached for comment, Auckland Airport spokeswoman Lisa Mulitalo said teams had no other options.

She said she was shocked and saddened by the incident.

Auckland Airport said on Twitter that travellers were experiencing delays, as the incident had grounded 16 flights.

Avsec will undertake a review of the incident to try and ascertain what spooked the dog and if this has any implications for ongoing training.

Attempts to catch Grizz were fruitless, forcing authorities to use deadly force. Source: 1 NEWS

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