27 airports – so far – have organized therapy dog programs on site to help passengers and employees deal with the stress of modern day travel.
The trend began back in 2001 at Mineta San Jose International Airport and now Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and many others have teams of volunteer handlers and their dogs who visit with passengers each day.
My At the Airport column on USA TODAY this month features a handful of these programs – and a dozen of the dogs, but here’s a preview/bonus profile from San Antonio International Airport, where the program is called Pups and Planes.
SAT Airport officials launched the program in October of 2013 with 5 pups, in anticipation of last year’s busy holiday travel season and now consider the furry, four-legged volunteers an essential part of the airport customer service team.
There are currently 13 dogs in the program and they are usually scheduled to work a two hour shift, walking through terminals. Look for QT the Golden Retriever, Travis the Doberman Pinscher, Gracie the West Highland white terrier and Whiskers a mixed breed pup. You’ll know they’re on duty by the blue kerchief around their neck.