A UK airport has come up with a fur-proof way to make flights more enjoyable for nervous flyers.Therapy dogs are being stationed at arrivals and departures at Southampton International Airport to help passengers with hidden disabilities and those with a fear of flying.
The four-legged employees will be a semi-permanent feature at the airport and will be on patrol once a week.The dogs, from the charity Therapy Dogs Nationwide (TND), are fully temperament tested and experienced in their trade.
Simon Young, Head of Passenger Operations, said: ‘Having therapy dogs in our airport will not only benefit our passengers but also our staff. ‘Four legged companions are well known for boosting general happiness, wellbeing as well as mood and we are very excited to welcome them to the Southampton Airport family.’
Aberdeen Airport became the first in the UK to use dogs to help anxious flyers.
Fourteen dogs, including three golden retrievers, two German Shepherds, two beagles, a Leonberger and a pug, became part of the crew in May last year. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is becoming increasingly popular with dogs often sent into care home, schools and hospitals.
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Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection, comfort and support to people who are socially isolated or suffer mental illness.
The benefits of AAT include improvement in general health and wellbeing, increased confidence, and improved communication skills.
Airport bosses say the mere action of stroking a dog can slow down the heartbeat and reduces blood pressure, making them great for anyone feeling nervous about their journey.The Launch of Southampton Airport’s Canine Crew coincided with a charity collection for national pet charity, Blue Cross, which has a re-homing centre in West End. Speaking on the partnership, Kirsty Smith, Rehoming Supervisor at Blue Cross Southampton, said: ‘We see every day how incredible pets are and how much of a benefit they bring to our lives; through the joy they bring and often helping alleviate our stress and worry in difficult situations.’
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.