Therapy dogs ease holiday travel burden at Detroit Metro Airport

ROMULUS, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – Packing your luggage, heading through TSA, and making the trek to your gate can create travel woes. 

Earlier this year, the Detroit Metro Airport began its ‘Therapy Dog Program’. With the program certified therapy dogs and their handlers can walk through the airport providing much-needed relief. 

In partnership with Fur Angels volunteers set aside a few hours each week. According to airport officials, the dogs range in size from 10 pounds to 150 pounds.

Kevin, a toy fox terrier, is still able to slow people down from the hustle and bustle of the airport.

“Certified therapy dogs is a good way to do that…it de-stresses passengers and especially first-time flyers,” said Matt Virost, the airport’s community outreach program manager.

John Palladino, who is a volunteer and is Kevin’s owner, noticed immediately the effect dogs have on passengers.

“Earbuds come out, cell phones get put in a pocket, iPads get turned over and for at least two minutes, you have someone’s sustained attention totally on a dog,” Palladino said.

The world we live in revolves around technology. With this program, volunteers tell Detroit Now News it helps increase travelers’ social skills. 

“They are engaged with not only the dog but with me, I get to see people at their best,” Palladino said.

With countless oohs and aahs and belly rubs, travelers are a fan of Kevin.

“Because when people have anxiety animals tend to lower your blood pressure..lower your anxiety..so that’s nice,” said traveler Cheryl English.

Though most of the job is easy, volunteer teams also need to be up to date on the latest in the airport.

“A lot of times you get other questions besides can I pet your dog? Where is the bathroom? How can I get to rideshare..things like that,” Virost said.

Click here for more information on how to volunteer.

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