MILWAUKEE -- The newest officers on patrol at a local hospital walk on four legs. Wheaton Franciscan St. Joseph's Hospital added K-9 units to its security team.
"Zola" and "Bo" make up part of the K-9 unit that officially launched last week.
"It has been phenomenal. We've had very remarkable results already. Very positive reactions from both our patients, staff and visitors," said Cindy Mangan, Director of Security at Wheaton Franciscan St. Joseph Hospital.
The German Shepherds are trained in patrol and protection.
"We make our way throughout the ED, waiting rooms, and lobbies," said Mark Cassity, K-9 security supervisor.
Their skills are multi-faceted.
"We have multiple capabilities. We have the ability to calm an individual that's coming in to get care that's going through a really tough time in their life, so it does provide that calming environment. We also have the capabilities for explosive detection so if there is an abandoned bag in our lobby or a suspicious item we are able to check that," said Cassity.
Their training took several months, and while they offer a nice break from the day's work for employees -- it's all business for the K-9's.
"It is something that they enjoy doing, we don't have to coax them into this, they do it for our praise, love and rewards," said Cassity.
The hospital could have added more security guards but said the K-9's may help in reducing the number of security incidents.
"A lot of times when we bring in a K-9 to a situation, it creates a distraction where they don't expect necessarily a K-9 in the area, in the hospital area, so a lot of times it can deescalate a situation just through presence," said Mangan.
The dogs are friendly and welcome people to pet them when the handler says it's OK.