Darceline Azor

On July 22nd, 2023, news broke of a hospital shooting in Portland, Oregon. One security guard was fatally shot by a visitor who was reportedly threatening hospital staff. Unfortunately, gun violence is on the rise nationwide, particularly in accessible, populated areas like hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The effects of this violence can be damaging to both patients and healthcare workers, resulting in a decrease in the quality of care that patients receive. If left unaddressed, this can lead to an instability of the well-being of the communities that they serve and care for. Hospitals and healthcare facilities must take steps to adequately address persistent violence in healthcare settings to foster safety, security and a successful environment of care.


Advantages of Having Canine Detection Services in Healthcare Settings

According to a National Library of Medicine publication, healthcare facilities that have implemented canine detection services have seen a decrease in crime and violence at their facilities. As healthcare institutions and hospitals become targets for active shooters and gun violence, interventions and preventative measures such as Firearms Detection Canine Teams are a necessity.

  • Canines act as a strong deterrent, deescalating aggression and discouraging criminal or violent behavior on hospital property.
  • They are highly accurate in detecting concealed weapons, reducing the risk they are brought into healthcare facilities.
  • Canines are cost-effective when evaluated against the potential liability costs associated with gun violence.
  • Canines can increase morale in healthcare institutions, enhancing patient and staff sense of safety, improving staff retention and strengthening the quality of care provided.


MSA Canine Security Services Area of Expertise

For nearly four decades, MSA Security has been the industry leader in canine protection services and high-consequence threat mitigation. MSA's canine teams provide a unique and innovative response to the rising level of violence in hospital settings.


The following are examples of MSA's Firearms Detection Programs' exceptional quality:

  • MSA canines are chosen precisely for their keen sense of smell, stable temperament and eagerness to please. Clients have the option to choose from floppy-eared dogs like Labrador Retrievers for a more approachable environment, or pointy-eared dogs like German Shepherds for a stronger visual deterrent. All MSA detection canines are highly socialized and exhibit impeccable behavior while on the job or off.
  • MSA Firearms Detection Canine Teams go through extensive imprintation on all five families of military and commercial explosives, as well as odors unique to firearms.
  • All our canine teams complete extensive operational training in preparation for their expected deployment environment. For Firearms Detection Teams being deployed to hospital environments, this includes training in explosive odor tracking, otherwise known as person-borne tracking.
  • MSA’s full-time team of canine handlers carries military or law enforcement backgrounds. At MSA, teams undergo additional training in areas such as explosive detection, counter surveillance and behavior pattern recognition.


Firearms Detection Canines are an important tool for preventing violence in healthcare settings. The rise of gun violence this past decade has proven that one cannot predict the time and place of these incidents, however, they are growing increasingly common. Organizations must be watchful and develop methods to help reduce any possible loss of life during these incidents.

To learn more about MSA Security’s Firearms Detection Canine Teams, download our Frequently Asked Questions document linked below.



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