Sniffing out the baddies
New detector dog handler Jacob Bates has always loved animals.
His mum’s a former zookeeper and his first job was in a pet shop.
So when the chance came to move from his role as a quarantine supervisor to dog handler, looking after young beagle Ollie, he jumped at the chance.
‘‘I’m loving it. It’s so much fun.’’
Mr Bates was one of seven new dog handlers to graduate in the Ministry of Primary Industries’ latest intake.
The pair will work at Auckland Airport, sniffing out biosecurity risks.
Handlers have to be matched with a dog that suits their personality and go through 10 weeks of training, including theory and practical assessment.
But the Mt Roskill resident says it was challenging absorbing all that information and forming a bond with Ollie in a short period of time.
‘‘The dogs have a mind of their own. There’s so much work you have to put into the dog to build that relationship.
‘‘Once that relationship is there, it just feels easy.’’
Ollie has lost 4kg since starting the programme after spending his first year as the companion of an elderly pensioner.
‘‘He had so much energy, he was a nightmare for that guy.’’
Now he gets to run around the airport arrivals terminal and is rewarded with food when he identifies a risk.
‘‘He’s a handful, but he’s got a great nose on him.’’
Mr Bates says using dogs is one of the best ways to keep New Zealand’s borders safe.
Powerful partnership: New Ministry of Primary Industries dog handler Jacob Bates and detector dog Ollie, will be working out of Auckland Airport.