Labrador retriever, used to detect illegal drugs in hospital, made friends on his rounds
New London - Staff at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital on Monday mourned the loss of Jack, the friendly and energetic security dog who had patrolled the hospital for the past year and a half.
Jack, a 2½-year-old black Labrador retriever, was training Saturday near the home of Ken Reid, the director of public safety at L&M, when he strayed into the road and was killed by a passing car, said Michael O'Farrell, spokesman for L&M.
"There are a lot of heavy hearts here today," O'Farrell said Monday. "We have truly lost a member of our team."
Jack was killed instantly, O'Farrell said.
Trained to detect illegal drugs that were brought into the hospital, Jack made several discoveries and also acted as a deterrent, O'Farrell said. When he sniffed drugs, he would use body language to signal Reid, who would then confiscate the drugs or call another officer to do so, and contact police.
"He was not here for show," O'Farrell said.
Jack also served as a morale booster and was a welcome presence wherever he went in the hospital.
"Ken couldn't go from point A to point B without somebody stopping and wanting to pet him and asking questions," O'Farrell said.
Karen Nicole Porter, nurse manager in the Emergency Department, said Jack "lifted our spirts" whenever Reid would bring him there, providing staff with therapeutic licks and tail wagging as they petted his velvety coat.
"We deal with such stress and we have such busy days," she said. "Staff would just go running to him. Anybody that saw him, a smile would be on their faces."
When returning to her office from another part of the hospital, Porter said she would often take a route that led her by Reid's office so she could visit Jack.
But Jack also made emergency department staff feel safer, not only by deterring people from bringing narcotics in but also by helping to calm patients and family members who were potentially unruly or violent, she said.
"He wouldn't have to do a thing," Porter said. "Just him sitting in the emergency room with Ken was a huge deterrent."
Jack spent about 40 hours a week patrolling the hospital with Reid, wearing a royal blue vest with a "K-9 Unit" patch that matched Reid's uniform. He went home with Reid at the end of each work day. The two were together 24/7, O'Farrell said. Reid declined to comment Monday.
Jack began working at L&M in the summer of 2010, part of several new safety and security initiatives that included the installation of a network of security cameras and additional security staff.
No decisions had been made as of Monday about whether L&M would get another security dog, O'Farrell said.