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ThisWeek News: Narcotic K9 Unit Welcomed at Riverside

OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital is welcoming its newest family member, a Narcotic K9 Unit named Rudy.

Rudy, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois, is a member of Riverside Methodist’s security team and is trained to detect narcotics. With his handler James Kee, a protective services officer, Rudy is helping keep illegal drugs out of the care site.

“We’re dedicated to ensuring the safest environment in our hospitals,” Anthony Bando, director of protective services, told reporters in a recent interview. “A K-9, especially one who is trained in narcotics, is just another tool we can give our officers, who are already highly trained, to help fulfill that mission.”

In partnership with Storm Dog Tactical, a world-class organization that specializes in training police force dogs, Rudy and Kee have completed rigorous training to implement this best-in-class K9 program. Rudy’s first day on the job will be in July.

In addition to detecting and deterring illegal drugs from entering the care site, another one of Rudy’s responsibilities is to engage with patients and visitors. So far, this hasn’t been hard for Rudy, who instantly becomes the center of attention as soon as he enters a room.

“They see me and say, ‘Oh, there’s the K9 handler. Where’s the dog?’” Kee told reporters. “It’s not even, ‘How are you doing?’ But he’s the guy. I just walk in there and read him. It’s his nose that’s going to help.”

Right now, the K9 program is acting as a pilot program at Riverside Methodist, with the broader goal of implementing it at other care sites.

OhioHealth regularly sees patients recovering from narcotics addiction. Ensuring care sites like Riverside Methodist remain a safe environment for patients to do that is the ultimate goal, and Rudy will play a major role in making that happen.

You can learn more about Rudy by clicking on the ThisWeek News and 10TV logos below.