AVOCA, LUZERNE COUNTY, (WBRE/WYOU) — We all know traveling by plane can be stressful. We also know therapy dogs can lower stress levels. So why not combine the two?
That’s exactly what Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport is doing effective today, with dogs roaming the terminal to help travelers needing a boost.
The airport is now joining 60 other airports in the country who offer therapy dogs. It’s a transition officials are making to ease the pain of traveling.
Meet Gloria and Niko. They are the newest members of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport staff. With bandanas around their necks, they’re called Red Tails.
“I’m a very stressful flyer and I would rather have a dog in front of me before I board a plane,” Red Tails volunteer Mary Schriebmaier said.
“Giving a little happiness to people who are traveling in times that are tough,” Red Tails volunteer Shari Cook said.
Tails is the acronym for Therapy Animals Integrating Less Stress. Passengers at the airport got a first-hand feel to what the program is all about.
“It just made me a lot more happier I guess! It just made me smile,” passenger Christie Martin said.
“I mean, there are people with special needs that could use the assistance of these dogs that are marvelous creatures and that’s pretty awesome,” passenger Al Castillejo said.
The dogs and their handlers come from all over northeastern Pennsylvania to volunteer at their leisure. They will be stationed throughout the airport, even past security.
“It will be up to the teams themselves when they can be here because they are all volunteer. So they could be here early in the morning, they could be here late at night,” airport director of marketing and communications Eric McKitish said.
McKitish says their goal is to better a customer’s experience while in the airport. Bringing stress levels down is one of their top priorities.
“We thought what better way than with therapy animals,” McKitish said.
“If it would be up to me, I would take them all home,” Martin said.
Airport officials have been working a year and a half to bring this program here. Right now, there are 12 volunteers and 12 therapy dogs.
If you have a certified therapy dog and would like to volunteer, you can call the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
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