RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — William Rasool is back at McGuire VA Medical Center for a routine visit, and on this day he is also getting a dose of T.L.C. That stands for ‘tender loving canine.’
“It’s relaxing, you know,” Rasool, an Army veteran, says while patting Bella, the Black Labrador Retriever. “It’s definitely some good therapy, you know.”
Bella joined McGuire’s police department last fall, and she is definitely top dog on campus, among patients and staff.
“They love her,” says Officer Alonzo Pitmon, Bella’s handler.
Bella’s police duties include tracking down illegal drugs, contraband, and patients who may wander off. When Bella isn’t working, she acts as an unofficial therapy dog for everyone she meets.
“Bella, she’s friendly,” Pitmon describes. “She won’t hurt a fly. She won’t bite her shadow. She doesn’t growl. She doesn’t bark.”
Navy veteran Tom Brewer gets a welcome break from his checkup when Bella walks by.
“It was great seeing the dog in here,” says Brewer. “It was relaxing. Just sort of breaks the medical monotony, you know, all the stuff we go through in the hospital every day.”
McGuire officials say Bella is not the first dog to patrol the hospital grounds, but Officer Pitmon says she is the first one on the force who has had such a special effect.
“She lifts your spirits,” he says. “Patients who’ve been upset, crying and stuff, they see her, they just want to rub her, and she’ll lick them and they’ll be like, ‘Thank you, Officer, that made my day.'”