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Therapy Dogs, Pigs, Ponies Available In US Airports To Remove Stress, Anxiety Among Passengers

Travelers Today       By    Staff Writer

Updated: Jun 05, 2017 06:43 AM EDT

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therapy dogs, airports, fear anxiety, Therapy animals

Most people suffering from anxiety or phobia of flying always take medicine in order to be calm during a flight. Little did they know that furry friends, like therapy dogs, ponies, and even pigs, could help ease out their anxiety.

In an article published in Efe, therapy dogs are available in 50 airports around the US for those who have fears or anxiety of flying in an airplane. The aim of this service is to have therapy animals at the airport to destress passengers, according to Jessica Ramirez, the office manager for Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP).

Ramirez said that with years of handling PUP, it has been proven that travelers become relaxed and not worried or angry if they are seeing therapy dogs.

"The children can entertain themselves and the adults have a little time to rest," she said.

According to Business Standard, the San Jose, California airport was the first one to bring in hospital and nursing home therapy dogs to help passengers. This program started after 9/11 terrorist attacks when people are afraid that their aircraft could be hijacked by terrorists.

Therapy dogs can also be seen at the Los Angeles International Airport, the country's second-busiest airport. They are being used more than ever because stress has increased due to remodeling work that forces employees to work extra hours and make many passengers unable to easily find the check-in locations for their flights.

PUP director Heidi Huebner said that using therapy dogs service could help passengers, particularly those who are flying for "sad reasons," such as termination from a job or death of a loved one.

Therapy pets at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) are called "The Wag Brigade" and they are being managed by volunteers coordinated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"We want the experience at our airports to be enjoyable, and so we wanted to include the therapy animals so that the trip would be less stressful," SFO Spokesman Doug Yakel said. Moreover, Yakel highlighted that there are 30 therapy dogs and other animals like "Lilou," a pig that sparks interests from the passengers.

For those who wants to be comforted by other animals besides dogs, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has 32 ponies that could give relieve them from stress. Seven Oaks Farm Miniature Therapy Horses president Lisa Moad said that when passengers pet the horses, their heartbeats slow down and their blood pressure drops. With that kind of therapy, people become happy, friendly and smiles appear on their faces.

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