AFP: Askals are better than ‘imported’ dogs for K-9 duty

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The ‘askal’ (‘asong kalye,’ or street dog) is better suited for K-9 security unit duties than ‘imported’ breeds, a spokesperson for AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) said on Wednesday.

“Our aspins are acclimatized to the weather and so they do not get tired easily when the weather gets hot,” said Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson for the AFP.

Padilla said that a German Shepherd, a Belgian Malinois, or a Labrador assigned to shopping malls would lie down after only a few hours.

“He’s already tired because he’s not acclimatized,” said Padilla.

The spokesperson made the comment after being asked about the Commission on Audit (COA) report that there was a shortage of K-9 bomb-detecting dogs to protect President Duterte.

Padilla said: “I read that earlier but … I think the AFP is already in the process of getting more canines, but it will take a little bit more time to get them.”

In its report, the COA said that as of Dec. 31 last year, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) has only 20 dogs left, short of the ideal 25 for “effective bomb-detection operations during presidential engagements.”

PSG spokesperson Lt. Col. Michael Aquino said they would get additional dogs from abroad despite the AFP’s preference for askals.

Aquino said: “We are stricter in the PSG. We measure their accuracy … at least 95 percent. So, it’s not really easy to acquire new dogs. These are top-of-the-line dogs based on international standards.”

“It could be said that there’s a shortage but that does not mean that we are remiss in our duties,” he added.

According to Padilla, the training of K-9’s begin when they are still puppies. A handler will be assigned a puppy to train and that puppy will work with that handler all throughout his career.

The Army has training facilities in Fort Bonifacio,  Taguig, Tanay, Rizal, and Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Many K-9s are serving in the Armed Forces to detect bombs, illegal drugs, and to search for people who are in the battle zone.

Padilla said askals serving in the AFP’s K-9 units are considered part of its “enlisted” personnel.

“They are provided serial numbers and we also have a cemetery for those who sacrificed their lives in the service. They are also serving in Mindanao,” he said.