Pork-sniffing dog: Coast Guard Central Visayas to deploy 'Poochi' vs African swine fever

Joworski Alipon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2019 01:31 PM

The Coast Guard trained Poochi to get used to the smell of pork meat. Joworski Alipon, ABS-CBN News

The Philippine Coast Guard's latest line of defense against hog disease: a dog who could smell pork trouble.

The PCG Central Visayas is set to soon deploy its pork-sniffing dog in ports across Region 7 in a bid to prevent the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF). 

PCG-7 Spokesperson Lt. Junior Grade Michael John Encina said this was the coast guard's step in response to Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia's order banning the entry of pork products from Luzon, where ASF has infected hogs in several areas.

“The dog will be sent to the different seaports for random inspection,” Encina said.

The dog named “Poochi” is an 18-month-old Golden Retriever donated to the PCG and trained as a dog who could detect illegal drugs. 

Given the new challenge ASF poses, Encina said Poochi was then trained to detect pig blood. 

His handler Kristofferson Bitoy said the canine wasn’t hard to train since it has been tamed to undergo exercises.

It took over a month for Poochi to get used to the smell of pork through random demonstration.

Encina said the PCG is willing to train more dogs for pig blood detection as one dog is not enough to search all seaports in the region. 

A ban on pork products from Luzon is in effect in Cebu. Visayas and Mindanao are known to remain free from the disease. 

Stringent measures have been set-up in various entry points in the region. More documents are required for pork-related products from other provinces to be allowed to enter Visayas and Mindanao.

Garcia is firm on her decision to ban the entry of pork in the province. This, despite Agriculture Secretary William Dar's remark that the governor is ‘overreacting.’

But before a rift could escalate, both parties agreed to clarify the issue during their meeting in Cebu which led to closer coordination between the agency and the local government.

Hog producers in Cebu have expressed worries on the sudden decline of their sales, attributing this to the ASF scare among consumers.