Bassett Healthcare welcomes new security dog

May 2—Bassett Healthcare Network has welcomed a new K-9 unit to its security team.

According to a Bassett news release, Dank, a 17-month-old German shepherd and Belgian malinois mix, began his duties as the newest member of Bassett's security force on April 1. Dank's partner is Officer Lynda May, who previously worked with now-retired K-9 Remi. Dank and May will travel around Bassett Healthcare Network's hospitals and clinics each week.

"We are so proud of this amazing program and are truly grateful to the generous community members who make it possible," said Staci Thompson, president and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. "Bassett's K-9 program adds a dynamic layer to our safety and security efforts across campuses."

May and Dank have been training together since February, the release said. Dank, along with Bassett's other security dogs, Hudson, Coal, and Hutch, work at Bassett's hospital and clinic campuses.

"Bassett Healthcare Network, like hundreds of other health systems and hospitals across the country, has seen an increase in violence against healthcare workers in recent years," the release said. "K-9 units can quickly defuse tense situations before they escalate simply by entering a room. They are also trained in tracking and other important protection techniques."

"Healthcare workers are five times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than employees in any other industry," said A.J. Zuk, director of security and transportation at Bassett. "All four of Bassett's K-9 dogs — Hudson, Coal, Hutch, and Dank — are intelligent, alert to everything going on around them, and are trained to provide support in a variety of situations. They offer security and comfort to our employees every day."

May said Dank has finished training and is doing well on the job. "Dank is very comfortable in a hospital environment," she said. "He is extremely smart and learns more quickly than many dogs I have worked with. Dank is already becoming a resourceful and dependable member of our security team."

May arrived at Bassett in 2023 after working at the Otsego County Sheriff's Office.

"Dank's name has a special meaning," she said. "K-9 dogs are often named after officers who have fallen or officers we wish to honor. My maiden name is Dankievitch. My father, Robert J. Dankievitch, retired as a commander in the U.S. Navy and served as a police officer in Suffolk County on Long Island for 24 years. He was called 'Dank' by his peers in both professions. In this case, I could not think of a better way to honor my father who passed in 2015."

In addition to its K-9 team, Bassett's Security Department consists of more than 60 security officers who staff five hospitals and more than two dozen regional health centers. They respond to emergencies and are the organization's liaison with area law enforcement, according to the release.