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Spectrum Health welcomes new dog to K-9 unit

The dogs are trained to sniff out explosives and firearms that may make it into the building, among other things.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Police departments everywhere use dogs as part of the job, but a local hospital has a K-9 unit as well.

Ray is the newest member of Spectrum Health's K-9 unit.

"He's a three year old German Shepherd," says his handler, Mark Bond.

The unit has been around for several years.

"For protection for the hospital, basically," says Duke Haan, handler of K-9 Rex.

The dogs are trained to sniff out explosives and firearms that may make it into the building.

And over the last year and a half, Spectrum has reported an increase in assaults by patients on hospital staff. The dogs can help ease that tension.

"The dog can get a pet, they take a breath and it's like we're hitting the reset button and starting over," says Bond. "So we can try to deescalate and calm down from there."

But they're more than just for police work.

Ray and Rex will regularly make stops at patients rooms for visits.

"We bring the canine in and immediately their faces light up," says Haan. "They're obviously missing their pets, especially if they've been in the hospital for some time."

And for the rookie K-9, Ray, it's those visits that have him excited to get to work.

"He's going to do great for us," says Bond.

Spectrum's K-9 unit is funded entirely by community support through the Spectrum Health Foundation.

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