Four-legged security at Valley hospitals keep patients safe

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Meet new hospital staff members

There are some new staff members at Valley hospitals. They don't have MDs but they do have four legs and it's their job to help keep patient's safe.

The German Shepherd's are getting a good workout but it's not all fun and games.

They have a job to do at St. Joseph's Hospital and medical center.

Chris Bellino, the director of security and safety, says, "We were asked to come up with some innovative ways to increase security and not really manpower so one of the areas we looked at was a canine program." He says having a canine program at the hospital adds an extra level of protection for patients and staff. " It's basically for deterrence not that we have a lot of major issues, again, a presence of a canine unit goes a long way." Bellino explains, "Two of the canines are trained in detection of ordinance in the event that we have a suspicious package or we get a threat or bomb threat because it does happen."

The dogs patrol the hospital grounds in 12-hour shifts with their partners. Bellino tells 3TV, "The handlers are trained on how to recognize fatigue on the dog, when the dog needs a break, when he needs to go to the bathroom and when he needs a break. Basically the dog gets to sleep on duty and it's the only officer that gets away with it."

Not only do the dogs and the security officers share a special bond at work but they also live together.

Dog handler Nan Laws admits, "It helps create a stronger bond between him and I because if something truly happened in the hospital someday I might rely on him for my life or vice a versa."< /p>

The hospital enlisted dog trainer Hans Bla Bla from Alpine Safety K-9 International to help the two learn how to work with each other. Laws explains, "The dogs were already pre-trained before they come to us so it was actually the handlers that needed to be trained."

The biggest thing is communication in the event of an emergency situation. Bla Bla says, "If the bad guy hears someone command the dog and the dog starts responding then they get confused and give up."

While the dogs haven't had to put their skills to the test just yet, they do more than just keep an eye on everyone. Laws says, " The dogs brings comfort to people that are here because this is a hospital and we do have sick people and stuff like that and our dogs offer comfort."

There are K9 programs at other hospitals around the Valley. For more information please log on to , or go to .