SFO Calls on Therapy Dogs to Help Stressed Out Travelers This Holiday Season

The doctor is in
Finally, a cure for all that holiday travel trauma.

Okay "cure" might be a strong word, but San Francisco is at least offering something that will alleviate all that anxiety you will definitely experience from cancelled flights, lost luggage, unruly travelers, and don't forget all those gifts you will have to unwrap at security.


That's right, the San Francisco SPCA is staging therapy dogs at San Francisco International Airport starting today as a way to try to relax hurried travelers at the peak of their holiday tension.

The super chill pups currently work with volunteers as part of the SPCA's Animal Assisted Therapy Program, which visits hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, psychiatric facilities, developmentally disabled centers, convalescent homes and youth facilities to help heal patients and residents.

But this group of certified therapy dogs stationed at the airport were handpicked to be part of the new Wag Brigade Program specifically with the goal to soothe travelers and remedy their stress and worry. At the very least, seeing an adorable super chill dog at the airport will make flying a little more bearable.

"The eight therapy dogs that will initiate this program have been carefully selected for their temperament and airport suitability," said Krista Maloney, spokeswoman for the SPCA. "The dogs will wear personalized vests that read "Pet Me!" and identify them as Wag Brigade volunteers."

No need to pop that holiday Valium before you board your plane this year.

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The (adorable) dog in the photo is Toby. Besides the airport Wag Patrol he volunteers on a regular basis through the SF SPCA's Animal Assisted Therapy program. You can find Toby at Hamilton House, working with children transitioning from being homeless. He also goes weekly to a San Francisco elementary school in the Excelsior and works with a special education class and is a reading buddy in the Puppy Dog Tales program. Curious? Check out his first visit as a reading buddy: http://wp.me/p2PoLd-4X

The SF SPCA's Animal Assisted therapy dogs regularly visit mental health clinics, hospitals, homeless shelters, assisted living facilities, senior centers, nursing homes, schools +++. All the dogs and handlers are volunteers.

Jim Yu
Jim Yu

How about a cuddle puddle in terminal 2 and a tie Dye t shirt making station in terminal 1?

Lori Vechazone Fenske
Lori Vechazone Fenske

Instead of using animal therapy on people who can afford to travel--and subsequently afford a massage etc--during the holidays SFO could bring this program to people who are stressed and struggling with financial, job and health issues all over the Bay Area this holiday season. Not as fun but definitely MORE important.

Rich Harris
Rich Harris

Interesting idea. Hopefully we don't stress all the animals out.


Finally something that sounds reasonable, makes sense and is good for the soul.

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