Cebu’s first K9 search, rescue unit formed
CEBU, Philippines — A group of volunteers in Cebu has formed a K9 search and rescue (SAR) unit in order to aid authorities in search and rescue operations during a disaster response.
Joseph Inosante of Base Camp Emergency Response Team (BCERT) said this is Cebu’s first unit composed of rescue volunteers together with their dogs.
“We are making an initiative to create one because wala ta’y K9 unit search and rescue team in Cebu (nga volunteers tanan). Like what happened in Naga, there are rescue units who came here from Zamboanga who helped in the search,” Inosante said.
Held at Parkmall, more than 20 volunteers together with their dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, Belgian Mallinois, Dutch Shepherds, and German Shepherds went through an assessment led by James Lewis, a British national who specializes in dog training.
Inosante said the assessment was important to determine the “effectiveness and relationship” of the owner and his/her dog.
Once passed, the dogs and their owners will undergo a three-year training program for free.
Inosante said dogs of different breeds are welcome.
“It’s an open breed, so it doesn’t matter. We don’t want to discriminate,” he said.
He said yesterday’s assessment was also in coordination with the Junior Chamber International WoMandaue, a women’s organization aimed at improving their communities through volunteerism and building their members’ civic leadership skills through training.
Personnel of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the City Rescue and Disaster Assistance Network (CRDAN) from Talisay City, Negros Occidental were present to observe.
Geoffrey Gutierrez, DRRMO head, said they went to Parkmall to observe as they also plan to create a K9 unit in their own city.
“We are here to make observations,” he said.
He said dogs are of big help in times of emergencies and disasters, especially in search and retrieval operations.
Moreover, Inosante said their group is open for collaboration with the local government units and the police force in disaster response.
“Yes, we are. As long as we are capable and available,” he said. (FREEMAN)