MANILA - Nine volunteer rescue dogs are among fur heroes who helped rescue survivors from the rubble of a collapsed supermarket in Porac, Pampanga after a magnitude 6.1 quake hit Luzon on Monday, leaving at least 16 people dead and dozens injured.
The K9 team of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority was composed of Billy, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, Thunder, a 5-year-old Jack Russel Terrier, Farah, 2, and Cody, 1, both German Shepherds, Lucy, 1, and Dumbo, 4, Dutch Shepherds, and Chia, 2, and 5-year-olds Chaplin and Ringo, all Labrador Retrievers.
With the dogs' help, rescuers were able to locate and rescue Grace Melchor, an employee of the supermarket. They also led to the retrieval of the body of victim May Ann Sales.
Sheryl Maon-Palcis, head of MMDA K9's information and planning office, said the dogs were earlier deployed in search and rescue operations in devastating landslides in Naga, Cebu and Itogon, Benguet.
The dogs were tired but well after the operation, Palcis said.
"The dogs are okay naman. Super tired nga lang kasi maghapon sila nagwork tapos super init pa," she said.
(The dogs are okay but super tired because they worked all day in the heat.)
Palcis added that the dogs were rewarded with the simulated discovery of a survivor after every operation to boost their morale.
"Hindi naman sila mabibigyan ng reward ng victims na mahahanap nila so para hindi sila ma-frustrate and to boost their morale nagpapatago kami ng tao na hahanapin nila para lang mabigyan sila ng reward, either praise or toy reward," she said.
(The victims cannot give them a reward so in order for them not to get frustrated and to boost their morale, we ask someone to hide for them as a kind of reward, we give them either praise or a toy reward.)
The volunteer group, which was an initiative of the MMDA in 2012, teamed up with K9 teams of the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Coast Guard in the Porac search and rescue operation.
Netizens were also quick to praise the dogs for their service. A Facebook post featuring the senior dogs has earned more than 31,000 reactions and 20,000 shares as of this posting.