CEBU CITY — To augment government efforts in addressing the African swine fever (ASF) disease affecting the country’s hog industry, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will start training 30 pork-sniffing dogs on Friday, with a model K-9 deployed to Cebu ports.
Commodore Ronnie Gil Gavan, chief of PCG 7 (Central Visayas), authorized the deployment of a Golden Retriever named Poochie to the ports in Cebu and Bohol to assist the local task forces working to secure the provinces against the spread of ASF, following orders of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Governor Arthur Yap to totally ban live hogs, pork, and pork products from Luzon.
Lt. Junior Grade Michael Encina, spokesperson of PCG-7, presented Poochie during a demonstration at their headquarters in Pier 3 here, where the newly-trained pork-sniffing dog showed its capability to detect pork and pork products inside a box.
According to Encina, training the first-ever pork-sniffing dog of PCG in the country was in response to the effort of the provincial government against the spread of the hog disease through executive orders that ban the entry of live hogs, pork, and pork products from the northern portion of the country.
“We already have the intelligence, information gathering and inspection. But the gap is (on) the detection capability of the task force ASF. One thing that Commodore Gavan has learned is to fill in the gap, which is the detection capability,” Encina told reporters.
On August 1, the PCG K-9 team started training 18-month-old Poochie by exposing its sense of smell to pork and pork-related products, he said.
While undergoing training, Poochie would be deployed randomly to different parts of Cebu and Bohol.
Encina said randomly deploying Poochie to different ports is part of deterring attempts to sneak in pork and pork products from Luzon despite the standing order for its total ban for 100 days.
Poochie is among the 20 dogs under the care of the PCG K-9 team. The other dogs have been trained for narco-sniffing, search and rescue, and bomb detection.
Encina said the PCG was hoping that after the six-month training of the 30 pork-sniffing dogs in Manila, the PCG in the region would get another dog to help Poochie.
He disclosed that Poochie was once a narco-sniffing dog, but part of its retraining was to convert into a pork sniffer to meet the pressing need due to the ASF scare in the country.
Encina vouched for the sniffing accuracy of Poochie as he noted that a dog has 20,000 olfactory nerves, which means they have 20,000 more capability to smell even concealed objects repeatedly exposed to its sense of smell. (PNA)