Runaway dog rescued after wandering onto Winnipeg airport tarmac

A rescue dog caused some tense moments at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport over the weekend when she ran on and off the tarmac, putting herself at risk of being shot if she posed a threat to airplanes.

Red the dog risked being shot if she posed safety threat to aircraft

Red the dog rests in her trap after she was captured outside the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Sunday. (Submitted by Kristy Greening)

A rescue dog caused some tense moments at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport over the weekend when she ran on and off the tarmac, putting herself at risk of being shot.

The female canine named Red had escaped from her new foster home and was running on a nearby military base before entering airport property.

"There were definitely reports of her being on the tarmac and, like, crossing over and then she'd be in some green space … she apparently covered quite a bit of ground," said Kristy Greening, who was called in to trap the frightened dog.

"She was new to the city and new to rescue. She hadn't been in this foster home for even a day, so this was all new to her. She was terrified."

Airport staff indicated that the runaway dog may have to be shot if she got in the way of aircraft, Greening said.

"They were really, really wonderful, but they were honest. They said, 'If she poses a threat, we might have to shoot.' And I think everybody can understand that," she said.

"As much as you don't want to hear something like that, I think if you're dealing with airplanes and if she's going to pose a threat to one person or the airplane itself, they have to do what they have to do."

'We were all so worried'

The rescue effort started Saturday and ended Sunday afternoon, when the dog was finally caught outside airport grounds.

Greening said it was an especially challenging rescue because there were many restricted areas on airport property where she could not set up traps.

Red in her foster home following her rescue. (Submitted by Kristy Greening)
"We were all so worried about her," Greening said.

"We're worried about them all. Any time you have to trap a dog they are scared and, you know, it's just an unbelievable feeling to know that they're safe."

Greening said she was eventually able to lure Red into a trap with the help of food, then return the dog to her foster home.

"To hear that trap door shut is probably my favourite sound in the world," she said with a laugh.

"I got a message from ... the fosters last night. She was exhausted, sleeping in her kennel and she hadn't moved for hours, so she was quite comfortable."

Unusual situation for airport authority

Breanne Talbot, a spokesperson with the Winnipeg Airports Authority, says situations like the one involving Red are very unusual. She said she does not know of any close calls involving animals on airport grounds.

The authority has a wildlife management plan that works to prevent animals from taking up residence on airport grounds, she said.

"The odd time a deer might get over the fence, but it's very rare. This might happen maybe once per year," she said.

"The odd time it does happen … we do all we can to make sure that they get out safely when possible."

Talbot said shooting an animal that's wandering on airport property would be "the absolute last resort."

"It would be only in the case where the animal poses a threat to public safety, so if there was a concern that the animal might come into contact or near the airplanes in landing and taking off, that could be very dangerous," she said.

Talbot said there is a handful of airport staff that are licensed to use firearms, including five duty managers and 10 airfield maintenance staff who oversee wildlife management as part of their duties.

Staff have had to use lethal force to control wildlife on airport property in the past, she said, adding that cases mostly involve birds that could pose a threat to aircraft.


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