Dog keeps planes safe on the ground, in air

The grounds crew of a Michigan airport has really gone to the dogs -- and that’s a good thing.

Piper, a 9-year-old border collie, keeps aircraft safe at the Traverse City, Michigan, airport. 

How, you may wonder, can a small dog keep big planes safe?

Piper’s job is to control, or chase away, birds and wildlife that could impact flight operations, CBS News reportedOver his career, he has chased 6,156 birds and counting over his 5,400 hours worked and 1,507 miles he’s patrolled.

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Piper has done quite a job and has developed a following.

He has fans on Reddit according to the Cherry Capital Airport K-9 Team.

His story, usually showing him with his flight goggles and other safety gear strapped on, has also been featured on CNNNBC and Fox News.

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Piper’s protection includes his goggles, ear protection, an aerial insertion vest, a tracking harness, shoes to keep his paws safe in the cold or heat and a K-9 trauma kit. Most of his gear was donated by various groups and businesses, according to the airport team’s website.

Piper has been on the job with his partner Brian Edwards for years, and it only took a year for the dog to get acclimated to the noise and other distractions on the tarmac, CBS News reported.

Luckily, the birds that Piper is tasked to keep away from aircraft haven’t gotten used to the aviation guard dog. Normally airports use shotgun blanks to scare animals away, but the birds and other wildlife can become accustomed to the noise. But Piper hones in on their fight or flight instinct when he chases them away and away they go, CBS News reported.

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