The Philippine Coast Guard’s latest line of defense against hog disease is a dog who can smell pork trouble, an official said Thursday.
The PCG Central Visayas will soon deploy its pork-sniffing dog in the ports across Region 7 in a bid to prevent the spread of the African Swine Fever, PCG-7 Spokesman Michael John Encina said.
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He said this was the Coast Guard’s response to Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s order banning the entry of pork products from Luzon, where the 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 that was donated to the PCG and then trained as a dog who could detect illegal drugs.
Given the new challenge ASF posed, Encina said, Poochi was then trained to detect pig blood.
His handler Kristofferson Bitoy said the canine wasn’t hard to train since it had been trained to undergo exercises.
It took over a month for Poochi to get used to the smell of pork through random demonstrations.
Encina said the PCG was willing to train more dogs for pig-blood detection as one dog was not enough to search all seaports in the region.
In Quezon City, chief veterinarian Anamarie Cabel ordered the culling of 199 pigs within the one-kilometer radius of an ASF-affected area in Barangay Pasong Tamo.
An official from the Provincial Agriculture Office in Laguna and some hog raisers and backyard piggery owners confirmed on Wednesday that, so far, the province is free from the ASF and that pork and pork products from Laguna are safe to eat.
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 the 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 remarks that the governor was “overreacting.”
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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 in their sales, attributing this to the ASF scare among consumers. With Rio N. Araja and PNA
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