Tag Archives: biosecurity

The Diplomatic Dog

Gracie is the fun, feisty, cute and sporty Yorkie owned by US Ambassador Scott Brown, who recently relocated to New Zealand for his diplomatic post.

Gracie has her own Twitter account.

That makes perfect sense, given that Gracie is an extended member of President Trump’s administration – and Mr Trump is well known for his like and use of Twitter.

News from Gracie so far has been limited because she’s been in quarantine since arriving in New Zealand (she got out yesterday).   New Zealand is blessed with some very unique flora and fauna and it relies on a strong agricultural economy.  Because of this (and the fact that our country is free of diseases like heartworm and rabies), dogs that arrive here from other countries need to have a period of quarantine.

Unlike most dogs who arrive in New Zealand, however, Gracie didn’t arrive as baggage.  Ambassador Brown tweeted a photo of Gracie sitting on his lap on the plane trip to New Zealand.  The perks of being a diplomatic dog!

Scott Brown with Gracie

Scott Brown and his dog, Gracie, on their flight to New Zealand. —Scott Brown via Twitter

According to Gracie, Brown and his wife visited her in quarantine earlier this month.

Ambassador Brown with Gracie in quarantine

Scott Brown with Gracie in quarantine

Since Gracie is now out of quarantine, she’ll be able to experience all that New Zealand has to offer.

If you ask me (a transplanted American of 23+ years), Scott Brown is very lucky in his posting to this beautiful country.

We hope Scott brings Gracie for a massage.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Officer Goodboy

New Zealand takes biosecurity very seriously.  That’s because our economy relies on agricultural and horticultural production and because our relative isolation from other continents has kept us free from some pests and diseases.

One of the best parts of coming home from overseas is heading into the baggage area and seeing the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI, for short) detector dogs doing their job.  Usually Beagles, but sometimes other breeds, these dogs are focused on sniffing your bags to see if they contain any at-risk items.

Last year, MPI created a commercial using Officer Goodboy to explain the entry procedures into New Zealand.  A very good use of dogs in advertising.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Dogs, biosecurity and Johnny Depp

The recent story about Johnny Depp’s Yorkshire Terriers, Pistol and Boo, and their deportation from Australia has some lessons in it that I think have been overlooked.

That’s not totally surprising when you have an Australian Minister like Barnaby Joyce fronting to the media with comments like  “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”

Inflammatory, yes.  Headline grabbing – yes.   But lacking in good information for people to understand the Australian position on the dogs and what the public needs to know when arriving in the country.

Happy Dogz salon's Lianne and Ellie Kent with Pistol and Boo; it was the dogs' visit to the groomers and the subsequent Facebook photos that caught the attention of the Australian authorities

Happy Dogz salon’s Lianne and Ellie Kent with Pistol and Boo; it was the dogs’ visit to the groomers and the subsequent Facebook photos that caught the attention of the Australian authorities

Australia and New Zealand have some very unique flora and fauna – thanks to their geographic isolation from other continents.  The countries are also free of diseases like rabies which are a worry in other western countries like the United States and the UK and mean that animals there must be vaccinated (whereas here, they are not).

Animals can be imported to both Australia and New Zealand, but they are subject to quarantine to ensure that they are not carrying any diseases that could run rampant in these sensitive environments.   There are also requirements when importing semen, for example, for dog breeding.

So, Pistol and Boo were a legitimate biosecurity risk and their presence in the Depp party was apparently not declared.  And I hear that the Australian authorities are now investigating this to find out if Depp, or another member of his party, knowingly broke the law.

At this point, I’m prepared to give Depp the benefit of the doubt.  He and his wife love their dogs and are in the fortunate position to be able to fly them in comfort around the world in a private plane (whereas most of us can’t afford to travel long distances with our dogs, let alone worrying about them as they are treated as luggage in the holds of commercial aircraft).

They also have an ‘entourage’ that attends to their personal needs, and so I do wonder just how switched on Depp was in terms of filling out declaration forms on his arrival in Australia.  I suspect someone in his employment took care of these minor details for him – just as someone in his employment took the dogs to the groomers which started this whole saga to begin with.

So the lessons from all of this?

  • Love your dog, travel with them if you can, but understand your destination requirements in terms of quarantine and also your dog’s health
  • Understand biosecurity risks and obey the requirements of the country you are visiting
  • Treat breaches of laws seriously, but with respect for all parties.  Innocent until proven guilty, etc.
  • And use ‘headline grabbing’ stories for educational opportunities -an opportunity that Australia seems to have missed thanks to a headline-grabbing Minister

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

New team on duty at Christchurch Airport

There’s a new biosecurity dog team on duty at Christchurch Airport.  Meet Helga and handler Kimberly Sell in this article:

Helga on duty, photo by Kirk Hargreaves

Helga on duty, photo by Kirk Hargreaves

New team on airport duty – news – the-press | Stuff.co.nz.

The Florida sniffing dogs

The state of Florida is employing the use of some special Labradors in their fight for biosecurity.

Bear, Sierra and RJ are trained to follow the scent trails laid down by the invasive Giant African Land Snail.

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Times

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Times

The snail is a pest in the Miami area, where officials believe they have contained the spread of the pest.

The snails can grow as big as rats and they eat plants as well as stucco and plaster because they need lots of calcium to grow their shells. In large numbers, the snails have been known to cause extensive structural damage to buildings.  (And there’s lots of stucco in Florida!)

Photo by Andrew Derksen, Florida Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey Program

Photo by Andrew Derksen, Florida Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey Program

The snails can carry a parasite which is a human health risk because it can cause a form of meningitis but no cases have occurred so far in the United States.

The snails were introduced by a Santeria group which is a religion with a Caribbean and West African background.  The group would use the snails in religious ceremonies.