Washington State Hospital Employs Security Dog to Curb Violence

Washington State Hospital Employs Security Dog to Curb Violence

A hospital in Washington is deploying a K-9 unit to deter violence.

Providence Health Care in Spokane, Wash. has added a dog and handler to its security team in response to a reported increase in violence against health care workers locally and nationally. 

Sarge, a 16-month-old German Shepherd, was hand-picked for Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and has already been deployed twice to help defuse volatile situations at the hospital.

Providence officials said Sarge is the first K-9 unit at a hospital in Washington, though a growing number of U.s. health care facilities use dogs to sniff out contraband, deter violent and apprehend threatening suspects.

Providence also uses security dogs at its hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. They're trained like the dogs used by law enforcement. 

"Their primary role here is to keep caregivers, patients and visitors safe," said Ryan Nelson, director of security for Providence. "We know that having a visible K-9 unit does provide an extra sense of security for staff."

Providence officials said the dogs could be used to apprehend suspects by biting them, but they insisted such incidents would be rare in a relatively controlled environment like the hospital, where human security staff can handle most of the work. More often the dogs will be used a “deterrent,” officials said.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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