Banner Health security K-9's get new bulletproof vests

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - They say "health is the most precious gift" and that couldn't be more accurate at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, where they just received a gift that can better protect the health of those who are inside.

Four bulletproof vests were provided to security K-9's. Joe McGinty, area director of the K-9 program for Banner security, says the K-9's serve a dual purpose -- number one is to protect patients and staff while deterring potentially dangerous behavior and secondly to provide comfort.

Provided by Vested Interest, a non-profit dedicated to protecting K-9's, the vests serve as a constant reminder of the hard work and loyalty the dogs display on a daily basis.

"Even though there's a patrol function to it, it really does have a calming effect on families that are going through hard times," McGinty said.

Just ask security officer Chris Dodd, the handler of K-9 Alex.

"He lives with me, he works with me, he's attached to my family," he said. "I'm attached to him, so it's definitely a great bond."

Alex can sniff out outside narcotics brought into the hospital, de-escalate tense situations and provide a sense of security, replacing sometimes visually-alarming weapons like guns.

Thanks to his new bulletproof vest, K-9 Alex is protected too.

"I'm happy that we have that bond, so that way in the thick of it or the crazy, I know he's got my back," Dodd said.