Located in the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, the Philippines is prone to earthquakes. Seismically active, it experiences a lot of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, not to mention typhoons originating in the Pacific Ocean.

Recently, an earthquake with a 5.1 magnitude hit Surigao City. Another earthquake, this time of a 5.5 magnitude, hit Mindoro as well, according to VolcanoDiscovery.com. In anticipation of the “Big One”, Filipinos continue to hold earthquake drills — but is this enough?

Animals to the Rescue!

Many animal groups are starting to prepare for the major earthquakes, including the All-Breed Association of the Philippines (ABAP) K9. ABAP started October last year when a group of dog lovers decided to turn their furry companions into rescuers, in the event a big tremor hits the city.


“I’ve been into K9 for more than a decade. So, we had an idea to start K9 training for all kinds of dog breeds, particularly for the Big One,” says ABAP K9 President Bienvenido Canillo.

Trainers are well-versed in detection, bomb sniffing, and narcotics, but they mostly teach search and rescue.

“[During training, we motivate them through] treats and toys,” explains Canillo. “[In a hide-and-seek scenario, they initially look for something within] a short distance [and we increase this incrementally].”

Canine Invasion

ABAP organizes events to invite more volunteers to the group. Rehabilitation programs are facilitated by VP of Operations Dr. Jerome Medina, while K9 training is headed by Canillo.

Since the group’s inception in Batangas last year, they now have different chapters that provide training for dogs to assist in search and rescue.“ABAP is in 15 other areas as disaster K9 responders to assist our community during distressing times,” says ABAP Secretary General Red Oliva Lim.

Tremor Truths

According to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the big earthquake would likely have a magnitude of 7.2, which may cause 34,000 deaths and 114,000 injuries.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported that it could affect the West Valley Fault, which traverses Metro Manila, according to the Philippine Red Cross.

“Aspin” for the Win!

ABAP also promotes the domestic canine, also known as the “aspin,” in search-and-rescue operations, highlighting the importance of local dogs to the community in contrast to treating them as unwanted strays.


This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s September 2018 issue.