Airport Therapy Pigs Are Here!
“Airport therapy? With pigs?”
“Maybe when pigs fly.”
Well, it’s 2016 and we’ve yet to see a winged pig. But we have seen LiLou! LiLou is an adorable trailblazer. She is the first pig certified as a therapy pig in the Animal Assisted Therapy Program of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
And she’s extraordinarily popular! Accordingly, Doug Yakel, Public Information Officer at San Francisco International Airport, is quoted saying, “We were always open to having other animals on the team along with dogs.
So when the SPCA recommended LiLou (also certified by their AAT program), we were thrilled!” Of course, it’s obvious that people enjoy working with LiLou as well. But she offers more than simply airport therapy.
LiLou Provides Airport Therapy Just Like The Dogs!
Tatyana Danilova, LiLou’s owner, says, “I can see that she is happy showing off her tricks and getting her praise. It also brings positive emotions to me seeing that we can do something good for the community and bring more smiles in some unconventional way.” Both LiLou and her owner are working to give back to community by way of smiles.
Pigs? But Dogs Are Airport Therapy Animals, Right?
Over the years, we’ve seen many airport therapy dogs throughout SFO but now, the SF SPCA has begun working with a variety of animals. This program is called SFO’s “Wag Brigade.” Through this animal assisted therapy program, friendly dogs, cats, and a variety of other super sweet animals walk throughout the airport. The Wag Brigade was launched in 2013 using volunteer dogs and their owners or handlers. This program assists in making the airport environment that much more enjoyable for travelers. To become a part of this program, the dog/owner teams are referred by the SF SPCA.
The dogs (and LiLou) had to go through the SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) certification program. After going through this program, the teams volunteer all over at senior centers, hospitals, and now, SFO! LiLou does not enjoy interacting with the California therapy dogs, but she loves people. She is one of the most popular airport therapy volunteers around.
One of the best characteristics LiLou has (besides how awesome she looks in a pilot’s hat) is she’s hypoallergenic. What that means is she’s very unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. This is great because as an airport therapy animal, LiLou will meet thousands of people every year. With 15 percent of the population having allergic reactions to dogs and cats, LiLou is perfect for anyone in need of an airport therapy companion.