SALT LAKE CITY – Three therapy dogs are helping travelers at Salt Lake City International Airport reduce stress and make their wait go a little quicker.
Airport officials recently approached Therapy Animals of Utah about bringing some animals to the terminals, the nonprofit’s Executive Director Deborah Carr said. Last week, Bert the Golden Retriever, Annie and Miss Sophie, both Goldendoodles, went to the airport for their first visits.
“The reception was just fabulous," Carr said. "People were just so excited to see the dogs."
Interaction with calm animals, like those involved in Therapy Animals of Utah, can lower people’s blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates and the amount of stress hormones, Carr said.
Eventually, the dogs may visit the airport twice a week, but currently handlers are only visiting once a week on Tuesdays or Thursdays, Carr said.
The dogs and handlers had to undergo comprehensive evaluations and background checks to clear security in order to go into the terminals. Before the animals were considered for this partnership, Bert, Annie and Miss Sophie had to undergo extensive training to be sure they could consistently handle themselves around strangers and groups.
“You know they’re reliable and predictable," Carr said. "They really inspire confidence."
Carr said the handlers are considerate of people who may have allergies or do not like animals. She said they watch non-verbal cues and ask before allowing the animals to approach individuals.
Travelers can check on the Salt Lake City International Airport’s Twitter account to see when the dogs will be there and in which terminal.