You are the owner of this article.

St. Mary's new K-9/officer team to meet fans Saturday

Providence St. Mary Security Officer Mike Smith patrols the hospital with Axel

Providence St. Mary Medical Center Security Officer Mike Smith patrols the hospital with Axel. The duo will be at a meet-and-greet Saturday at PetSmart, 1626 W. Poplar St.

Officer Mike Smith and K-9 officer Axel, who serve as the K9 security team at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, will be at a meet-and-greet from noon-2 p.m. Saturday at PetSmart, 1626 W. Poplar St.

Providence St. Mary Foundation funded the introduction of the program at St. Mary.

A German shepherd Belgian Malinois cross, Axel was born in August 2018, is described as calm, obedient and friendly and has been on the job since early December.

These dogs are not purebred as their parentage is a combination of German shepherds and Belgian Malinois, but the blend brings in elegant, intelligent characteristics with a strong, proud in stature, smooth-coated, herding dog with an alert attitude, reports

The Malinois is reputed to be the best herding breed in Belgium. Like the German shepherd, they’re in high demand as police and military dogs.

Mike will talk about the hospital’s security program at the event. He previously worked in Oregon law enforcement and started at St. Mary in March, according to a Dec. 23 story by U-B colleague Vicki Hillhouse.

As a security team, the pair’s eight-week training took place at the Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Training Center in Northport.

There are just four hospitals in the state, including St. Mary, that have a K-9 on their security teams.

Axel has a finely honed sense of smell, which can help with contraband detection and patrol security to reduce and deter workplace violence.

The meet-and-greet is open to the community.

Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,