Airports bringing in therapy dogs to calm anxious plane passengers

A young boy pets a therapy dog named Toby inside Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport on December 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

( - From finding gates to checking bags to trudging through security, flight preparations get many travelers wound up before they even step on the plane. And now, man’s best friend is easing a whole lot of airport anxiety.

More and more American airports are bringing in therapy dogs to improve the passenger experience, according to a report from Travel Pulse. And many say that our four-legged friends are critical reducing stress and starting the journey off right.

These highly popular pet programs can now be found at over 30 airports across the country, according to San Diego Airport, whose own “Ready, Pet, Go” program has dogs socializing with roughly 200 passengers during two-hour shifts.

Typically found in a kerchief or vest labeled “Pet Me”, the pups pad around airport terminals with trained handlers, spreading love to travelers from all walks of life.

Another pet program partnering with the Erie County S.P.C.A., Paws for Love, frequents Buffalo's Niagara International Airport, and is one of the oldest pet therapy programs: founded in 2005, it now has over 300 volunteers.

"When you're here at the airport, they're not always traveling for a good reason and the dogs seem to relax them and make them feel good,” Debbie Braun of Paws for Love told WKBW in July.

Vancouver International Airport and Rochester International Airport are among the latest airports to follow the trend, bringing in therapy dogs earlier this month. Two RIA travelers in particular were delighted to meet the pup.

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