PORKY Pochie is his name.
His muscles and bones are not made of pork—he is a dog of the Golden Retriever breed.
Pochie was his only name while fulfilling his previous duty as part of the narco-sniffing canine unit at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) 7 in the past 10 months.
The PCG 7 decided to add Porky to his name as he has a new duty: to detect pork and help prevent African swine fever (ASF) from entering Cebu—a noble job for a dog like him who is ready to bow-wow if his sense of smell catches hog’s meat from a shipment.
On Thursday morning, Oct. 3, 2019, the 18-month-old Porky Pochie was introduced by the PCG 7 as the first pork-sniffing dog not just in Cebu, but in the country, according to a coast guard official.
“We named him Porky Pochie to easily identify his purpose. Pochie needs retraining. His training is continuous,” said LTJG Michael John Encina, PCG 7 spokesperson.
The dog fills in the gap between the intelligence and inspection capability of the ASF Task Force created by the Cebu Provincial Government.
“We need (to have) the intelligence or the information-gathering (capability). We also have this inspection, but we have a gap: the detection capability. This was one loophole that PCG 7 District Commander Ronnie Gil Gavan found upon strategizing against ASF,” Encina said.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia had issued Executive Order (EO) 16, which amended earlier EOs, to totally ban the entry of live hogs, pork, pork-related products, byproducts and boar semen from Luzon into Cebu for 100 days.
She made the move after the Department of Agriculture confirmed an ASF outbreak in seven areas in Bulacan and Rizal provinces in Luzon.
ASF is a viral disease that infects only pigs and wild boars, according to the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners. It is transmitted through feeding of infected pork or carcasses, contamination of equipment and when blood is shed. Its mortality rate is 100 percent, and it can affect all pig age groups.
Porky Pochie is a member of the PCG 7’s canine family: 12 explosive-sniffing dogs; seven narco-sniffing dogs; and one safety and rescue dog.
As part of his preparation to become the sole pork-sniffing dog, Porky Pochie underwent 45 days of training that started last Aug. 1. The PCG 7 will go with him in randomly checking the ports of Cebu City and provinces of Cebu and Bohol.
Porky Pochie’s training includes smelling an item. He and his handler were also engaged in extraneous training.
“A training usually lasts a year. Train and deploy until (the dog) is fully equipped. Usually the effectivity of the dog to sniff lasts four hours and then he has to rest,” Encina said.
Encina said other dogs can follow Porky Pochie’s path.
“There is no preferred breed of dogs as all of them have olfactory nerves that are 20,000 times (more sensitive) compared to humans’. However, we also considered other factors. We saw that a Golden Retriever is gentle compared to other dogs,” he said.
On Friday, Oct. 4, the K9 Command of the PCG National Headquarters will convene 30 dogs for training in Manila.
“The deployment will be determined upon the completion of the training. When the dogs are deemed effective, they will be deployed all over the Philippines,” Encina said.
When the Capitol’s pork ban is over, Porky Pochie’s future job remains to be seen.
The dog’s handler, Seaman Second Class Christopherson Bitoy, said Porky Pochie is undergoing training on how to sniff canned goods.
“If he detects something through his smell, we give him a reward,” he said.
Porky Pochie’s reward, of course, is not pork, he said. WBS