Airport Canines are now being used as Therapy Dogs to Comfort the Travelers

By Christian Dann Quiroz, Parent Herald March 15, 07:20 am
Flight attendants pet a therapy dog named Toby inside Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport on December 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco SPCA and San Francisco International Airport joined forces to launch a new program called 'Wag Brigade' that will have a team of certified therapy dogs that will patrol the airport's to help calm stressed travelers during the busy holiday travel season.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Canines in airports today are not just there to do sniffing jobs. They are now being used to calm nervous passengers or ease stress. They are now airport passenger's best friend.

Dogs are doing an important job with regards to airport security. There are currently 275 canines working with the Transportation Security Agency across the United States, according to APEX.

Aside from detecting explosives, drugs and other illegal items that can be detected by dogs, these four-legged officers are now trained as therapy dogs that interact with the passengers and alleviate stress. There is also at least one dog keeping the airport runways free of wildlife.

Piper is a Border Collie trained as a Wildlife Control K-9 of Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan. Its job is to check the perimeter fence for holes made by rodents and patrols for birds. Piper likes chasing snow owls.

Orion, on the other hand, is a dog of a volunteer chaplain. It may have been the first airport canine to be used as a therapy dog. The chaplain brought Orion to work at Mineta San José International Airport right after the 9/11 incident. The dog's calming influence was a big hit that inspired the idea.

Meanwhile, the Lehigh Valley International Airport also launched a Therapy Dog Program called Canines Offering Passenger Encouragement (COPE), as reported by NBC.

"Minimizing the stress associated with flying and travel by introducing this program is just one more initiative the Authority has taken to improve customer service and the overall experience when traveling through this airport," Charles Everett, airport's executive director, said in a statement.

The dogs, together with their handlers walk around the Main Terminal and Departure Building to interact with the passengers who are waiting for their flights.

Aside from the airports in Traverse City, Michigan and Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, airports across the country have also launched the same program, including San Antonio, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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