Avoca, PA (May 31, 2019) – Beginning today, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport will start a new program to assist travelers lower their stress levels while at AVP. This new all-volunteer program is called the AVP (Red) tails Pet Therapy Program. The word “tails” is an acronym for Therapy Animals Integrating Less Stress.
Current partners with the AVP tails Program are the non-profit groups Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs, and Therapy Dogs International.
As traveling can create stress and anxieties at airports, the AVP tails Program is an opportunity to provide an overall enhanced customer experience, providing stress relief and comfort to passengers through interaction with pets.
“It’s a great customer service,” said Carl Beardsley, AVP Executive Director. “So many people love to see dogs. It makes them happy. It lowers their stress if they can just sit down and pet a dog.”
Therapy dogs and handlers (or teams) will roam the pre- and post-security areas of the Joseph M. McDade Terminal Building, visiting travelers awaiting flights and providing comfort, as well as airport information, while producing a less stressful environment.
“Initially twelve teams will volunteer at AVP, but the numbers are continuing to grow”, said Eric McKitish, AVP’s Director – Marketing & Communications.
“The dogs wearing Red bandanas and handlers in Red shirts with the AVP tails Program logo are an excellent addition to Team AVP”, Beardsley continued. “Passengers should love seeing warm, wet noses and wagging tails that will create a friendly, “PAWSitive” experience at AVP!”
“It’s been a proven fact over the years that Therapy Dogs help calm people and relax people,” said Mary Schriebmaier, who is a tester/observer for the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
As for the potential effect on asthmatics and patrons allergic to dog dander, McKitish explained, “The dog handlers are very aware of the people around them. They are watching the people’s body language. If people appear like they don’t want to be approached, they don’t approach them. If people appear to look up at them and look at the dog and look interested, they walk toward them and they will ask, ‘Do you want to pet my dog?”
Currently, there are approximately 60 airports across the country that have therapy dog programs.
Using dogs for therapeutic purposes has been around for decades. In 1982, the American Veterinary Medical Association officially recognized the human-animal bond, after a study with hundreds of clinical trials that confirmed that petting an animal can lessen anxiety.