Why You're Seeing More Dogs and Cats in Airports

Thursday, May 23, 2019
If you travel by air quite regularly, then you have likely noticed an increase in the number of dogs and cats that you see at airports.

Ever wondered why this is?

Here is everything you need to know... 
Emotional Support Animals
Why are you seeing more dogs and cats in airports?

Emotional Support Animals
One of the big reasons as to why you're now seeing more pets at airports is due to the increase in emotional support animals out there. 

What is an emotional support animal? 

An emotional support animal, or ESA for short, is an animal that helps a person who is suffering from a mental disability. 

Unlike a service animal, who is trained to perform specific physical tasks, an ESA provides their therapeutic benefits simply by just being there. 

ESAs being allowed on planes is nothing new... 

The Air Carrier Access Act, which states that an airline must allow an ESA in the cabin with their owner at no additional charge, was passed in 1986.

So, why the sudden increase in ESAs? 

It is partly due to the number of ESA websites that are now out there. This makes it easier than ever for a person to obtain an ESA letter for themselves.

Of course, there are also many scam websites out there too, meaning that people who don't necessarily need an ESA are being given an ESA letter.

Fortunately, this is something that many airlines are now cracking down on. This not only applies to fake paperwork, but airlines are now also taking steps to ensure that an ESA has been trained to handle the stress that comes with flying.

Airport Animal Therapy Programs

Flying can be stressful, and there aren't many people who would disagree!

Many airports try to ensure that they have facilities in place that encourage passengers to relax, whether this may be quiet restaurants, massage stations, yoga studios or anything else. Some airports are taking this further by introducing animal therapy programs.

What is an airport animal therapy program? 

It basically involves airport staff bringing in animals to help passengers with stress relief.

Some airports have an ongoing animal therapy program, while others choose to bring animals in only during peak travel times.

Of course, dogs and cats tend to be the most common types of animals used for these programs, but some airports are starting to diversify a bit...

Emotional Support Animals
Animal Support Program is used in various airports of the world. 

San Francisco International Airport
has a therapy pig to help calm people down, while Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport used to use miniature horses to keep stress levels low in their ticketing section.

These animals have been trained to be accustomed to the many different sights, sounds and smells at an airport. Unlike a normal pet, these animals would not be stressed or spooked by the hectic atmosphere at an airport, and it doesn't take long for their calm energy to transfer over into the passengers around them.

While it may seem surprising to see cats, dogs and other animals at an airport, this is becoming so much more common. This is great news for animal lovers, who would never pass up a chance at spending more time with an animal. However, when you see an animal at an airport, make sure that you always get permission from its owner or handler first, before going ahead and interacting with that animal. Learn more about traveling with a pet!

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