A new search and rescue dog team for the Philippines is taking shape, with help from Serve On volunteers.
Last November, 26 hopefuls started a programme to become dog handlers in a newly formed task force - the Search and Rescue Unit of Cebu (SARUC).
The first eight volunteers and their dogs from Class Alpha have just passed basic obedience training to progress to further training and Serve On dog handler James Lewis has been in the Philippines to see their progress and to advise them.
As well as obedience training, the handlers have had lessons in first aid, radio communication and the use of basic Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) tools.
Training this year will prepare them to support volunteer search and rescue operations in the Philippines in the event of a natural disaster or other crisis.
Handlers will undergo map work, trauma care, English classes and rope rescue work.
The dogs are moving into search work where they will begin to specialise.
Games such as ‘runaways’ and ‘pop-ups’ are ongoing as dogs develop alongside their UK partners.
The initiative to start a dog task force is to fill a perceived gap in search and rescue assets and follows on from disaster risk reduction work Serve On trainers have previously done with the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF) in Cebu, Philippines.
In the coming two years, James will return to the Philippines along with other experienced trainers from Serve On to build the capacity of the new dog team to respond at a national level to disasters.
They are keen to hear from more companies willing to give whatever help they can give to fund the growth of this life-saving asset for the people of the Philippines.