Following their canine brothers’ and sisters’ fine performance helping police departments and assisting the visually impaired, dogs are being hired at airports.
Their job: keeping birds away from aircraft.
It’s a serious task, according to an article in USA Today. Birds can dent fuselage, foul motors and break windshields. Between 1990 and 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported:
- more than 82,000 aircraft-animal collisions, with birds involved 97% of the time
- eight wildlife strikes that caused 11 human deaths — in most cases, the plane was damaged and the pilot lost control of the aircraft
- bird strikes caused $291 million in damage and 362,000 hours in aircraft down time.
Sky, a one-year-old Border Collie, has been working at Southwest Florida International Airport for two months, shooing birds off the airfield.
Her handler says she’s not aggressive with the birds, but she’s close enough to a predator, such as a wolf or coyote, to scare them.
Unfortunately, it does cost airports more than dog biscuits and belly rubs to hire the dogs. One trained dog and handler from a private service can cost up to $100,000 a year.