BUFFALO NIAGARA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT GOING TO THE DOGS....LITERALLY!

November 8, 2013
By: NIAGARA FRONTIER TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, Serving Buffalo Niagara 716-855-7300


Man’s best friend will be making the rounds at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport through SPCA Paws for Love (PFL), a program of the SPCA Serving Erie County, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced yesterday.

A
s part of the SPCA PFL program, volunteers bring their evaluated and approved pets to visit patients and residents in local hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and now the concept has expanded visitation to include the BNIA.

The BNIA is believed to be one of seven airports in the U.S. to offer such a program to its passengers, joining the likes of San Jose, Ft. Lauderdale, San Antonio, Grand Rapids, Los Angeles and Miami. The BNIA presently has 22 dogs enrolled, making it the second-largest program in the country behind Los Angeles, which has 30.  Working dogs will be easily identifiable as they meander through the terminal wearing fluorescent lime green SPCA PFL vests with their volunteers in tow wearing blue SPCA PFL shirts (photos).

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, “Traveling can create stress and anxieties for passengers.  The PFL program is an opportunity for us to provide an overall enhanced customer experience at our airport by providing stress relief and comfort to passengers through this interaction with the dogs.”

 “We've long known the impact animals have on the psyches of people. For many years, SPCA Paws for Love visiting pets have added a new dynamic to the lives of nursing home residents, assisted-living facility residents, and others,” says SPCA Director of Public Relations Gina Browning. “Since starting this new airport visitation program, the calming effect program dogs have had on anxious travelers has been incredible to witness. Unnerved passengers, frightened children, even those just arriving in Buffalo in distressing circumstances are finding immeasurable comfort in the time they're able to spend with these animals.”

Plans are to have two and four-legged volunteers working one-hour shifts, offering comfort and a sense of calmness to passengers both pre and post security and at baggage carousels. The dogs and their volunteers will also work in the airport’s preview program, which involves airport preview visits by families with autistic or developmentally disabled children.

There is an extensive body of research regarding the overall health benefits to people when they own or come in contact with dogs and other animals. The goal of the BNIA’s visitation program is to help with the anxieties of nervous passengers.  According to veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker, dog therapy programs at airports started in San Jose shortly after September 11, 2001, when flights were grounded and passengers were stranded, anxious and afraid.

People who are interested and want to learn more about volunteering for the SPCA PFL program should visit the SPCA’s website, YourSPCA.org, or contact program coordinator Deborah Braun at spcapawsforlove@aol.com or 716-681-0744.

SEE PAWS FOR LOVE'S AIRPORT PHOTO ALBUM HERE!