Airport dogs make flying less “ruff’

by Alyssa Daniells

Yesterday’s hot online topic was about Dutch airline KLM hiring beagles to locate passengers at Amsterdam Airport who had left items behind on their KLM flights.

If something smelled fishy about this airport’s sniffing dog detective, the (suit)case is closed. It is actually an attention-grabbing advertising campaign, or as some argue; a hoax. Read more here (trust us, the video is worth watching!)

dog klmWe caught tail of a story about dog heroism at airports that is very real.

California’s biggest and busiest airports, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) have programs where specially-trained dogs and their handlers roam the terminals, offering calm and comfort to nervous or irritated fliers.

Airports are breeding ground for tension, which is why LAX unleashed its PUP (Pets Unstressing Passengers) program last year. Whether it’s delayed flights, crowds, airport construction or fear of flying, PUP’s therapy dogs help relieve anxiety and stress, while their handlers, who are experienced volunteers, provide relevant airport information to flustered flyers. As an added touch of whimsical distraction, PUP handlers hand out trading cards of the PUP patrol.

Numerous studies prove that interaction with pets is linked to stress-reduction. Sometimes, just a short encounter with a lovely Labrador is all it takes to lift spirits before the plane takes off.

The PUPs come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny terriers, mid-sized Maltese, to long and lean Alsatians and Dalmatians.

SFO’s calming canines began their airport tours of duty last December, thanks to the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The volunteer rules here are more lax than LAX, as these dogs are accompanied by their owners, after meeting SPCA requirements. Even if passengers are homesick or bored, these dogs will make sure their problems are licked (quite literally.)

You can also find docile dogs at Buffalo International Airport (Sunwing link) and Miami International Airport. In Canada, the only hairport, er airport, with a pet therapy program is Edmonton International Airport. EIA’s four-legged squad includes not only dogs, but cats and rabbits, too.

How do you feel about dogs lending their calming services to stressed airport dwellers? Let us know, in the comments below!

You may also like