GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Trinity Health Saint Mary’s Grand Rapids has welcomed four new employees trained to keep the peace and bring comfort to patients and staff.

Work looks a lot different for security officer DeAngelo Person these days.

“It’s been amazing for me. I’ve been here for almost 10 years. So going from being a regular officer to a K-9 officer where you actually get to bring your dog to work and not just bring your dog to work for the day but every day, it’s been amazing,” said Person, a Trinity Health Saint Mary’s security officer.

Person and Marco have been together for six months. So have Officer Chase Smith and K-9 Kyro, Officer Ryan Buitendyk and K-9 Bosco, and Officer Tim Dault and K-9 Zan.

“I have three priorities for our security department and it’s service, security, and safety. The dogs really fit into all of those priorities,” said David Kiddle, Director of security and emergency preparedness at Trinity Health Saint Mary’s.

Kiddle said hospitals everywhere have seen an increase in aggression and violence. Having one of the dogs and its handler on the property has helped curtail those situations. The dogs have been working in the hospital since mid-April.

“We’ve had probably 50 incidents where the dogs have been involved in de-escalation and we’ve evaluated those. In about 62 percent of them, they’ve actually been very successful in de-escalating that situation,” said Kiddle.

  • One of the K-9s at Trinity Health. (July 13, 2022)
  • One of the K-9s at Trinity Health. (July 13, 2022)
  • One of the K-9s at Trinity Health. (July 13, 2022)
  • One of the K-9s at Trinity Health. (July 13, 2022)

All four dogs are also trained in detecting explosives and although not official therapy dogs, they sure do make people happy.

“You know how many people love dogs so much,” said Person.

There’s a side benefit for the handlers — they’ve picked up a few new words

Two of the dogs are from the Netherlands, one from Czech Republic, and one is from Slovakia. The dogs take commands in those countries’ languages.

One of the dogs is on duty 24/7 at Trinity Health Saint Mary’s, keeping things safe and bringing a little bit of joy to patients, the staff, and of course their handlers.

“He’s just a great boy, he loves people, it helps me out,” said Person.

The dogs, their training and care were made possible thanks to a grant from the Saint Mary’s Foundation.