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K-9 attacks two-year-old boy at airport

MANILA – Here’s a reminder that man’s best friend can be not so friendly all the time.

A K-9 dog hired by Philippine Airlines attacked a two-year-old boy last Saturday (November 19) at the NAIA Centennial Terminal 2, reports said.

The victim, Elijah Lingaolingao, was about to board a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 861 with his parents and nanny at around 10:45 a.m. at Terminal 2 when he was attacked from behind by the bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois, an report said.

Superintendent Al Abner Wahab Santos of the NCR Police Center for Aviation Security said initial investigation showed the dog’s handler, Christopher Luig, had fallen asleep and forgot to secure the dog.

“We were wondering why he was at the passenger movement area. He should not have stayed there,” Santos was quoted. Santos added that bomb-sniffing dogs are supposed to remain at the cargo or baggage-inspection areas.

Santos said he is recommending that all bomb-sniffing dogs and handlers of PAL should first seek clearance with PNP aviation security command before they are deployed in the passenger movement area to avoid similar incidents.

PAL apologized to the victim’s parents and immediately rushed the boy for first aid treatment at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center.

“Based on initial reports, the boy is safe and has been discharged but continues to undergo regular check-ups,” PAL said.

The report quoted the boy’s mother Rizza as saying the dog attacked them from behind and bit her son on the head, in the face below the left eye and in the upper lip. Rizza added that before the attack, the handler was taking a nap at one of the seats and the dog was not securely attached to him or tied to a fixed post.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the management has been informed about the incident. She said PAL is currently investigating the dog handler.

“PAL is deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident. Rest assured that it is taking all necessary steps to prevent a similar accident in the future. In the meantime, PAL’s priority is to ensure the safety and welfare of the boy,” the airline said.

It added that PAL will shoulder all the medical expenses including transportation for the boy’s regular trips to Cardinal Santos from their home in Bulacan. An internal investigation is ongoing as to how and why the accident happened.

A K-9 dog and his handler are a two-part team employed to track and find explosive devices or chemicals. They are also trained to attack and restrain agitators, endure agitation, and perform focused searches under fire or in busy and crowded areas.

Handlers or trainers usually undergo training with their K-9 counterparts in order to bond and develop better communication skills. It is a golden rule that handlers must have full control over their K-9 partners.