Source | Cherry Capital Airport K-9 Team | 09 September 2023 2 minutes
Piper – The Coolest Airport Dog Ever!
He wears earmuffs and a black vest with the American flag sewn onto it. His specially-designed goggles are tailor-made to fit his long nose, the lenses of his “Rex Specs” model are metallized. And that’s really cool.
We are in Traverse City in Michigan, and Piper’s job can be described as follows: He chases birds and other wild animals away from the runways at Cherry Capital Airport in Michigan. The 8-year-old Border Collie is probably the most effective method of wildlife mitigation at airports. Basically, his job is to increase safety by reacting to reports of wildlife and conducting regular patrols. He spends most of the time chasing birds away from the runways and taxiways. And that’s a perfect job for Border Collies as they are natural herders. Piper’s handler, Brian Edwards, has been working at the Cherry Capital Airport as an Airport Supervisor since 2008. And when Brian is off duty, he trains his dog.
Birds pose a great danger to air traffic. If an animal strikes a plane, the damage can be significant. In 2014, a loon hit an American Eagle plane while it was approaching landing. It left an 18-inch-hole in the plane. Today, pyrotechnics such as bird bangers and bird screamers are typically used, but Cherry Capital Airport has its very own screamer, and this 4-legged alarm system is paying off. When Piper is ordered to do so, he goes into scent work, which means he sniffs the ground in search of voles, moles, and holes in the perimeter fence. “The owls got used to what comes out of the red truck and at that point, after a couple of three weeks, we didn’t really have to do much chasing because they flew away on their own,” said Brian.
Piper’s job is to increase safety in air travel. Plus, Piper loves what he does. And so do we.
Unfortunately, Piper passed away in January 2018 in the arms of his owner, but we believe he found an equally rewarding job wherever he might be right now. Thanks for everything, Piper!
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