San Francisco International Airport is the latest to go to the (therapy) dogs.
On Tuesday, the airport launched its Wag Brigade program, bringing therapy dogs to SFO. Wag Brigade volunteers will visit SFO terminals with their dogs every day. The handlers are the dogs’ owners.
“Interacting with therapy dogs has been proven to offer both physical and mental health benefits,” said Dr. Jennifer Emmert, Animal Assisted Therapy manager at the SF SPCA. “We’re hoping our therapy dogs will help provide stress relief to SFO passengers during the busy holiday season and beyond.”
The dogs can be identified by vests that read “Pet Me!”
All participating dogs are graduates of the SF SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy training program and are required to visit SFO prior to formal acceptance into the Wag Brigade program. Dogs are evaluated for temperament and comfort with large crowds, security requirements and the airport environment.
Los Angeles International Airport unveiled a similar program earlier this year. Called PUP (Pets Unstressing Passengers), trained dogs and handlers roam through the gate areas on the departure level of each terminal and visit with passengers awaiting flights while providing comfort and offering airport information.
Airports in San Jose, Calif., and Miami have similar programs.