Hoag Puts Man’s Best Friend to Work with Santa Ana Police Department

Officers are training Rosie the bloodhound to help find and reunite missing persons with their loved ones

Hoag approaches preventative health care from all angles, taking in the depth of it, the breadth of it and – most recently – the scent of it.

Last year, Hoag made headlines when it donated 4-month-old bloodhound Rosie to the Santa Ana Police Department. The scent-tracking canine would be trained over the next 11 months to help officers find suspects as well as to locate “critical missing.”

“‘Critical missing’ is what we call children under 12, people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or those who need medication who may have wandered from the home,” said Officer Bob Guidry, Rosie’s human partner. “Bloodhounds have 300 million scent receptors, more than any other dog breed, and Rosie is trained to find missing people even when the tracks are old.”

Hoag’s Department of Community Health donated the $15,000 to purchase and train Rosie for the police department. If the connection between health care spending and a police dog is not immediately apparent, consider that the American Alzheimer’s Association estimates 60 percent of adults with dementia will wander, and another study out of Virginia found that 20 percent of Alzheimer’s patients who wandered were later found dead. The faster law enforcement is able to find a wandering individual, the better the outcome.

Santa Ana PD alone receives 150 critical missing calls each year. Rosie’s job is to find these people quickly and safely.

“For us, this is a public health intervention. When people with autism or dementia or other cognitive disabilities get lost, it can have serious health ramifications,” said Michaell Rose, director of Community Benefit at Hoag.

“If we can prevent a tragedy or prevent people from ending up in the emergency department, if we can save just one person, it will all be worth it.”

The idea to fund a bloodhound came from Rose and her husband, Santa Ana PD Sgt. James Rose, who oversees the department’s K9 program. A year ago, Rose’s mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, wandered away from home. She was found several hours later, many miles from home. She was not injured, but Rose said the experience made her wish the department had a bloodhound to help find her mother sooner.

“I don’t know how she crossed streets and wandered so far in the middle of the night without any accidents,” Rose said. “It would be really nice to have a bloodhound in every city, so that a parent of a child or a caregiver could have access to this lifesaving service.”

Rosie joined Officer Guidry’s family in November of 2017. After undergoing an extensive training program (and chewing up everything she could get her mouth on), Rosie was only very recently certified for deployment. Officer Guidry said he is continuously amazed at her tracking skills and has a tremendous amount of confidence in her abilities.

“Before we track, the first thing I do is put a harness on her. That’s when she knows it is time to work. It’s amazing to see her body behavior change. I give her the scent item, she snaps her head down and boom, she’s on it,” Officer Guidry said.

“Rosie will reduce manpower it takes to locate people, and help us locate a person a lot sooner. We really appreciate Hoag donating Rosie. This has created a great opportunity for the community.”