Zen cashes out of Cus­toms du­ties

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

One of Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port’s pi­o­neers is em­bark­ing on his muc­hearned re­tire­ment.

Zen, New Zealand Cus­toms’ first cash-de­tect­ing dog, is lay­ing down his har­ness for a life of leisure.

The choco­late labrador was born in 2008 and was a gift from the Aus­tralian Cus­toms breed­ing cen­tre in Mel­bourne.

He was orig­i­nally trained to de­tect white pow­ders and in­gre­di­ents used in mak­ing metham­phetamine and started work­ing at the air­port in 2010.

Last year Zen was re­trained as Cus­toms’ first money-sniff­ing dog as part of a joint pi­lot pro­gramme be­tween the or­gan­i­sa­tion and the po­lice.

In his first week back on the job at the air­port he sniffed out about $140,000 in con­cealed cash.

Zen was also put to work at the In­ter­na­tional Mail Cen­tre in Man­gere and car­ry­ing out search war­rants at houses. His han­dler, se­nior cus­toms of­fi­cer Pet­tina Mitch­ener, says those were among his favourite work­places.

‘‘He used to get so ex­cited on war­rants that he would pirou­ette around the room,’’ she says.

Zen will re­tire to Ms Mitch­ener’s home and will be spend­ing as much time as pos­si­ble play­ing in his own pad­dling pool or the heated pool at Wa­ter Woofs, a ca­nine hy­drother­apy clinic in Hen­der­son.

Money trail: Zen in ac­tion at the In­ter­na­tional Mail Cen­tre.

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