Nothing is worse than getting to the airport early and having nothing to do. Not to mention, if you’re anxious about getting on your fight, this wait time can sometimes feel like hours.
Well, thanks to one volunteer program, passengers waiting to board can now pet certified therapy dogs.
This program started after the horrible events on September 11th. In order to calm people down about flying, an interfaith chaplain volunteer brought her Boxer/Great Dane mix named Orion to the Mineta San Jose International Airport. Orion is a certified therapy dog and was there to help ease people’s fears about flying. This program was a hit and now the airport has about 13 different dogs who visit each terminal every day.
As reported by USA Today, the dog breeds include “a Cocker Spaniel, a Rat Terrier, a Miniature Schnauzer, Golden Retriever, a French Mastiff and a Rottweiler.” Kyra Hubis, who is the leader of the therapy dog program told USA Today that they have “had many touching encounters with airport employees and travelers. It’s especially poignant to see soldiers being deployed hugging Henry James and telling him to ‘take care of the house’ while they’re gone.”
Due to the program’s success, there are currently 27 airports that also carry the same program. At the Los Angeles International Airport, their program is called Pets Unstressing Passengers. Bark Post reports that these therapy dogs are “dressed in bright red ‘Pet Me’ vests with the PUP logo.” LAX currently has 52 dogs that are all registered under the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
If you’re looking to become a volunteer or want to have your dog become a certified therapy dog, the process may take some time. Owners and pups both have to go through a training program to learn about the specific airport as well as how to assist passengers. Each handler has to be fingerprinted and go through security briefing. Once you’re allowed to assist stressed passengers, you then receive a shift once a week that is only one or two hours long.
The work hours may be short, but how it helps people lasts a lifetime.
Sarah is a Hufflepuff living in NYC. When she is not traveling or talking to random animals, she is working as a script writer. Tweet her at @lumpyspacederp