Just in time for National Volunteer Week (which is April 21 to April 27 this year!), Los Angeles International Airport has rolled out the PUP Program, which stands for “Pets Unstressing Passengers!”
Flying is stressful for a number of reasons, so the program aims to lower travelers’ anxiety by introducing them to friendly dogs while they wait for their flights. All of the dogs, and their owners, are volunteers in the program.
The program began on April 15, and so far 30 dog handlers and their trusty canine companions have signed up to volunteer with the PUP Program at LAX.
The dogs walk across the airport terminals in two-hour shifts welcoming passengers. The dogs wear bright red vests that read “Pet Me!”
Every dog is certified as a therapy dog. Not only are the dogs there to provide some friendly pet companionship, but the dogs and their handlers also will provide useful airport information and directions if travelers need it.
“These pups are going to be amazingly effective at relieving stress and anxiety,” said Gina Marie Lindsay, LA World Airport Executive Director, “and exceptionally helpful in calming nerves and creating a more friendly atmosphere and travel experience for the passengers.”
The dogs are there to provide support for passengers.
“We might have some [travelers] that are stressed out, somebody might be traveling for an unpleasant reason, or simply dog-lovers who are missing their dogs and are really excited to see some four-legged friends in the terminal” said Heidi Heubner” the program coordinator.
The handlers also give out trading cards featuring each of dogs, with a little bit of info about each dog and their personality. Maybe some frequent flyers can set out to collect the whole set!