The Philippine Coast Guard in Central Visayas (PCG-7) has deployed its first pork-sniffing dog trained to detect products infected by African swine fever (ASF).
Lt. Junior Grade Michael John Encina, PCG-7 spokesman, said the measure, initiated by PCG-7 Commander Ronnie Gil Gavan, addressed the need to check all pork-related products that enter Cebu.
“This is in compliance or in partnership with the Task Force ASF like intelligence- or information-gathering. We also have the inspection, but we have a gap — the detection capability. That is what our district commander has seen, that we need to fill in the gap,” Encina said in a news briefing on Thursday.
He added that “Porky Pochie,” the 18-month-old Golden Retriever, a former narcotic dog before he was trained to detect swine fever, started his training last August 1 and has been deployed randomly all over the sea ports of
Cebu and Bohol.
Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor make up Central Visayas.
“Our government is very aggressive to prevent the entry of pork [from Luzon] because we all know for a fact that Cebu is known for lechon (roasted pig). It’s not just the economic side which will be affected, but also the tourism factor,” Encina said.
“The training lasted for almost one-and-a-half months. But it is ongoing to strengthen the capability of Porky Pochie and to make it become more effective,” he added.
The PCG in Manila and the K9 command will also convene 30 dogs to undergo a specialized training in pork-sniffing and the allocated budget for each dog is P300,000.
“Each training lasts for one year, including the [training of the] handler,” Encina said.
Part of the training is repeatedly imprinting the smell of a specific item to the dog.
“This is a series of strenuous training also not only for the dog, but as well as for the handler. Because one dog is only intended for one handler. So, if the dog does not pass [training], the handler will also not pass,” Encina explained.
He said there was no preferred breed of dogs to be trained since scientifically, all dogs have 20,000 times olfactory nerves compared to humans.
Porky Pochie, however, responds well to the training.
Pork-sniffing dogs will be deployed all over the Philippines.
Porky Potchie is doing a good job — he recently sniffed ASF in 150 hogs, which were subsequently confiscated.