Dogs run about in plane site

2015-02-27 00:00

DOGS have been running amok at ­Pietermaritzburg Airport, posing a risk to aircraft.

Now the mutts on the runways have earned a mention in official city council documents as the city and the airport ­management firm Indiza launch a plan to keep the canines out.

Using a stormwater drain to gain access, the household pets, of pedigrees such as Ridgebacks and Labradors, are believed to be chasing and hunting rabbits while their owners — oblivious to their pets’ wandering in and around the highway — are at work.

Fire-fighters are often deployed in a bakkie to chase the dogs away as planes make their final approach or taxi for take-off.

And many of the law-breaking pets show complete disregard for the law.

Pietermaritzburg Airport manager Alan Kukard said they have run numerous initiatives to bring the rogue pets under control.

He said it is “difficult” to catch the dogs, who manage to make a quick escape when they are approached.

“These are well looked after suburban pets. We have caught a few, but at times they just run to the exit gate, which we open and let them run out.

“We have handed out flyers and informed local councillors to get the message out. It is a problem.

“A dog could cause significant damage to a plane taking off or landing. They pose a risk to aviation safety, much like birds do at airports around the world.”

Kukard said while the entire premises is secured by electric fencing, the dogs use a 900 mm stormwater drain that runs ­underneath the airport precinct to gain ­access.

“About three years ago, we erected a heavy metal gate at the entrance of the pipe. Sadly this has been stolen in recent months. We are now looking at putting in another gate, but on the entrance to the drain inside the airport premises.”

Kukard said on a few occasions they have managed to follow the dogs home.

“Owners are normally shocked and apologise. From that point we don’t see their dogs again.”

Kukard said while they make an appeal to owners in the vicinity of the airport to make sure their pets stay in their properties, they will have blocked the drain access by early next month.

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