15 'Aspin' tracker dogs help provide security to ambassadors on Phl-Spanish Friendship Day

July 1, 2015 9:19 am 

BALER, Aurora, June 30, — Securing the site of the 13th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day attended by at least five ambassadors of foreign countries in this capital town has become a breeze.

Thanks to the “Aspins” which helped the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police maintain the peace and order situation here.

“Aspins” are short for “Asong Pinoy” or tracker dogs, bomb-sniffing canines which scour public places for explosives.

Fifteen of the “Aspins” were deployed at the premises of the Baler Church, the Baler municipal plaza and municipal hall.

At least five ambassadors were present for Tuesday’s event, considered a high water mark in Aurora’s rich history.

Spanish Ambassador Luis Antonio Calvo served as guest of honor and speaker in the celebration of the 116th anniversary of historic siege of Baler, coinciding with the 13th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.

The other guests included Ambassadors Julio Camarena of Mexico, Rolando Guevara Alvarado of Panama, Truong Trieu Duong of Vietnam and Luis Lillo of Chile.

The trained dogs are owned by the Philippine Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion (IB) under its commander, Lt. Col. Joey A. Escanillas.

Escanillas said the special canines underwent a rigid training before being fielded to secure visitors and guests.

He said the dogs were honed on combat tracking skills and long exposure to military activities.

Likewise, he said the dogs were trained to track down lost humans or other animals.

The dogs, aged six to eight months, are also trained to further demonstrate their natural abilities and to recognize and follow human scent.

Tracking has always been an essential skill for dogs to survive in the wild, through hunting and tracking down potential prey,” he said.

Escanillas said soldiers who trained the dogs eventually became passionate to them and became aware of animal welfare rights.

He said training canines is no child’s play as it requires patience.

“Your level of tolerance must be high. You have to wait for your pet to be in perfect condition without getting frustrated or agitated, to be able to control emotions or impulses and proceed calmly when faced with difficulties,” he said.

Escanillas added that knowing the different kinds of breeds may help in some way but recognizing the exact breed of dog is not really important.

“No matter what size or type of dog the individual owns or utilizes in military operation, it is necessary to give the dog plenty of clear rules which it applies in its daily life,” said Escanillas who, prior to his assignment here, supervised the training of canines (K9s) of the Army for two years and three months as commanding officer of the K9 Battalion.

Aside from the "Aspins," Escanillas said they are also taking care of well-trained imported Labrador Retrievers and Belgian Malinois that also work in the battalion as explosive detector dogs.

At the 56th IB, the tracker dogs hop from one place to another in the provinces of Aurora and Quirino, the towns of Bongabon in Nueva Ecija and Dinapigue in Isabela and portions of Alfonso Castaneda in Nueva Vizcaya.

The 56th IB covers 17 municipalities composed of 320 barangays and inhabited by 450,274 populace. (PNA)

LAP/ZST/JASON DE ASIS/PS

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