Aspins Chichi and Coffee, two of the trained emotional support dogs of the Quezon City Veterinary Department (QCVD), has been going around the community vaccination sites of the city government to give kids a pleasant vaccination experience.

Recently, children who were scheduled to get inoculated in North Fairview Elementary School were able to pet Chichi and Coffee, who were both rescued from the streets a few months ago.

“Kapag nakita ng mga bata ‘yung mga aso, tuwang-tuwa sila tapos pwede pa nilang hawakan at pwede pang mayakap. It soothes the anxiety of the kids and makes vaccination a fun experience for them,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

According to City Veterinarian Dr. Ana Marie Cabel, the City Health Department (QCHD) has coordinated with their office to make vaccination in the communities memorable for kids, who have less colorful decors than in inoculation sites in malls and events place.

Since the establishment of the QC Animal Care and Adoption Center, city veterinarians have already trained 14 dogs as community service animals, and two as emotional support dogs.

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) has already started training five dogs from the city to be bomb or drug sniffers. The other dogs are still being prepared for assignment in other QCPD detachments and barangays.

“Soon, we will start to bring the dogs in institutions, first of which is the GRACES facility for the aged. Whenever we finish training the dogs, we’ll send them to facilities na kailangang kailangan nilang matulungan as emotional support animals,” Dr. Cabel explained.

Before being trained as emotional support or community service dogs for two months, the canines undergo a comprehensive assessment by the city veterinarians.

Each dog will undergo a three-day observation and a Safety Assessment for Evaluating Rehoming (SAFER) test that identifies the dog’s comfort level with restraint and touch, reaction to new experiences including movement and sound stimuli, bite inhibition, behavior around food and toys, and arousal level toward other dogs and will be screened for common disease conditions. Only apparently healthy dogs will be qualified to the Rehabilitation and Adoption Program.

Dogs that have satisfactorily qualified are put up into the immediate adoption and some are further trained as emotional support and community service dogs and undergo training on basic behavior, obedience and socialization.