After we traveled to Sacramento last month and were greeted by the Boarding Area Relaxation Corp (BARC) team I knew I wanted to be involved in getting this to Seattle. I received a response today the manager of airport customer service at SeaTac and found out they already have a Therapy Dog Program at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I was SO EXCITED to get this response:
During my search I connected with Debbie Harvey; Debbie is the person responsible for getting the program going in Reno as well as a few other airports. If you are in another state and somehow found my site, please contact me and I’ll get you in touch with Debbie. She is AMAZING. She is a retired pilot with flight priveldges and said she can travel anywhere to help, even if it is just to provide some support to get the program going. She is so dedicated to this program and she spent over an hour talking to me on the phone and gave me a lot of great advice. Debbie had already suggested that I contact Pet Partners for registration. Unfortunately I found out that one of the requirements of Pet Partners is that the dogs cannot have a raw food diet. I feel a little bit heartbroken over this because I really REALLY wanted to be involved in the program. I really have a strong belief in feeding raw and I’m not willing to change that. But if you are interested at all in this program, in reducing stress in travelers and making people feel GOOD then please let me know.
In addition to Seattle, here is a list of US airports with therapy dog programs:
|Columbia, S. C.|
|Ft. Lauderdale, FL|
|Grand Rapids, MC|
|Minn. St. Paul, MN|
|Oklahoma City OK|
|Salt Lake City, UT|
|San Antonio, TX|
|San Diego, CA|
|San Jose, CA|
|Willmington, N. C.|
There is also 3 Canadian airports that have the program also:
I was also given a list with 10 airports that are in the planning stages of the program and I’m not totally sure if that was information I’m allowed to share so for now I’ll just say it could be coming to your area soon!
Debbie told me the program started in 2001 in San Jose, CA (SJC) by airport Chaplain Kathryn Liebschutz and her dog, Dolly the Dalmation. Liebschutz was a member of the airport’s Interfaith Chaplaincy and on the morning of September 11st all chaplains were summoned to the San Jose airport to help passengers stranded by grounded planes or console those just arriving who might have just heard of the attacks. On September 13th, commercial flights resumed but stress levels were high. I did not get to speak to Chaplain Liebschutz however the story that Debbie explained to me was that Dolly the Dalmation was already registered as a therapy dog so Chaplain Liebschutz brought Dolly with her to the airport to comfort stressed travelers and that is where the program began.
I know when I saw 3 dogs with signs that said PET ME it felt better than someone telling me to come over their way for some free money because you know there is always a catch – there was no catch with these dogs just a lot of love. You will have to donate a good amount of your time to get your dog ready for this program but what an amazing program!!!
*Photo from Debbie Harvey of her 2015 team.