Piper the Border Collie Keeps Airport Safe By Patrolling the Runway

Piper the Border Collie has a bone to pick with any birds trying to disrupt flights at a Northern Michigan airport.

Four times a week, the pup works 10-hour shifts - with plenty of breaks - to protect the runway at the Traverse City Airport.

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While birds might seem to be no match against an airplane, bird strikes can cause fatal accidents and irreversible damage to aircrafts by colliding with the windshield or being sucked into the engine.

So Piper's main role is to run up and down the fields towards flocks of birds in order to scare them away. He's often seen wearing a ski mask to protect him from the debris, "MutMuffs" to protect him against the sound and boots to shield his paws from the hot tarmac.

But other times, he goes to work in nothing but his beautiful black and white coat.

"Most of K-9 Piper’s training revolved around obedience and off leash control," owner and trainer Brian Edwards writes on the Airport K-9 website. He also mentions that, while Piper knows to stay away from planes, he is unafraid of them, making him the perfect member of the team.

Since last year, Piper has been temporarily reassigned to Chief Morale Officer after being injured on the job. He fractured his paw and was briefly in a cast.

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Only a handful of airports in the United States use dogs to keep wildlife away. Most airports use sirens and traps, but Cherry Capital Airport writes on its website that "dogs are one of the most effective methods of wildlife mitigation at airports."

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