Bird dog helps keep skies safe
BIRD-strike prevention dog Joe has seen Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960s horror film The Birds – and slept through it.
Joe is not frightened of birds. He is driven to ensure they are clear of the Gold Coast Airport, where they can pose significant risks to operations.
A Jetstar aircraft struck a bird on landing at the airport on July 14, and while the plane was undamaged, these rare incidents are precisely what Joe and handler Martin Ziviani underwent almost 12 months of extensive training to prevent.
Mr Ziviani said Joe was rescued from the pound and not suitable as a family pet, which made him more useful as a working dog.
“But he’s a really personable dog to be around,” he said.
“I’ve been at the airport for five years, utilising all sorts of bird-strike prevention techniques, and Joe’s the latest tool.”
He said Joe was trained to target birds posing a threat, then once the threat was negated, return to his handler for a reward in the form of play.
“He’s not a threat to birds and he’s only trained to disperse them, and while occasionally there may be other animals in the area , they’d only be a distraction.”
Bird-strike management experts Avisure’s managing director Phil Shaw said Joe was purpose-trained and “the first one in Australia”.
Gold Coast Airport operations and standards general manager Rob Porter said the safety of passengers and crew was of “paramount importance”.
Like any airport, it is vital that we have an effective bird and wildlife management strategy in place for the safety of passengers, crews and the aircraft flying in this area,” Mr Porter said.