Recently, meeting LAX airport therapy dogs was a pawsitive experience. You may feel the same way if ever you get a chance to meet them.
Despite having done considerable research and reporting on airport therapy dog programs, the truth is I had never once encountered a therapy dog at the airport!
Last Wednesday I stopped by LAX Airport and met with Heidi Huebner, Director of PUPS (Pets Unstressing Passengers) Heidi and her dog Choswie (who sadly is no longer with us) help set up the program.
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LAX Airport has the most extensive airport therapy dog program in North America, having launched in April 2013 and the third to begin after Mineta San Jose and Miami Airport.
Each handler is a volunteer and the respective owner of each dog in the program. The dogs and handlers go through an interview process to ensure they are the right fit for the program. Not everyone makes the cut to join this team.
How adorable are these LAX airport therapy dogs?
Each dog has his/her baseball-card style ID, which are handed out passengers as a keepsake. I collected three from each of the dogs I meet this past Wednesday at LAX airport.
Besides the dogs roaming around all terminals, you may encounter one while waiting in a long TSA line. The teams head over to “high stress” spots at the airport to help take some anxiety away.
You can’t help but smile interacting with the dogs. Get a bunch of people happy, and you get instant human connections. It brings people closer and encourages strangers to bond even if it is for a few minutes.
Here is some helpful information about the lax airport therapy dogs
- The dogs wear a Red Vest “Pet me.”
- The program has a variety of 55 dogs.
- Where to find the dogs: Any of the eight terminals. Where there is high stress (extra long TSA line). They usually have four dogs daily at LAX, past security in the gated areas.
- Hours: Doggy love is provided to passengers daily for 1-2 hours.