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article imageTherapy dogs at major airports comfort stressed passengers

By Mike White     Sep 24, 2014 in Odd News
Los Angeles - Therapy dogs at a number of major airports, in various cities, including Los Angeles and Miami are being used to provide comfort to stressed-out passengers.
The New York Daily News reported the dogs are being used for those who want a friend, or a paw to shake, rather than sniffing out drugs or bombs.
"His job is to be touched," volunteer Kyra Hubis explained how Henry James, her five-year-old golden retriever is used a few hours a week at the San Jose airport. "I am just standing there with him. They are talking to him. If I need to answer for him, I do. But I am at the end of his leash, he's not at the end of mine."
The first therapy dogs were used at Mineta San Jose International Airport soon after September 11, 2001, after passengers were stranded and flights grounded because of the terrorists’ attacks on American cities. At that time, when passengers were stranded it was almost impossible to reach families in the east, and passengers were afraid and anxious.
Orion, a dog owned by a volunteer airport chaplain was brought to work after the chaplain received permission. Because the difference the dog made was so big, the airport made the program official, and there are now nine dogs in the program. Miami International Airport has one, and Los Angeles International airport (LAX) hopes to expand from the 30 it now has.
It is hoped the dogs will take the stress caused by terrorism fears, long lines and crowds, or at least lessen it.
ABC News reported San Francisco International Airport is also using therapy dogs. The program is called Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP).
“Interacting with therapy dogs has been proven to offer both physical and mental health benefits,” according to Dr. Jennifer Emmert, Animal Assisted Therapy manager at the SF SPCA. “We’re hoping our therapy dogs will help provide stress relief to SFO passengers during the busy holiday season and beyond.”
All of the dogs involved wear vests that say, "Pet me."
All dogs in the program have graduated from the SF SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy training program. Before becoming involved dogs are evaluated to determine their temperament and if they would be comfortable with big crowds, the airport environment and security requirements.
In a separate article, ABC reported on how the dogs are used at LAX.
The dogs were first used during National Volunteer Week (April 21-27). The dogs will be used long after that, however.
More about therapy dogs, give comfort, stressed passengers, major airports, San Francisco
 
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