Nearly a dozen dogs walked the “orange carpet” today at Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport’s Terminal D to launch the Airport’s pet therapy program. DFW Airport’s K9 Crew of 12 experienced therapy dogs and their handlers provide fliers with stress relief and comfort by being a friendly presence in the terminal. Dogs can be spotted in official “DFW K9 Crew” harnesses and accompanied by handlers wearing DFW K9 Crew uniforms. After the star-studded “Dogs of DFW” debut, passengers were invited to meet and greet the DFW Airport K9 Crew.
“For many, flying can be an uneasy experience,” said Ken Buchanan, executive vice president of Revenue Management at DFW Airport. “The DFW K9 Crew can change that perception. There’s nothing more soothing than the presence of a friendly dog, and we hope interacting with these animals will put anxious passengers at ease.”
To be eligible for the program, all dogs and handlers must be current members of a local and national pet therapy organization. They are required to volunteer at least two times per month with a one year commitment. Handlers are required to become a DFW AirportAmbassador Volunteer, attend mandatory orientation sessions and have regular evaluations.
“Not only do the dogs bring comfort to passengers waiting for flights, their handlers also are trained to provide an exceptional customer experience by providing directions and answering general questions about Airport amenities and services,” Buchanan said.
Each therapy dog has a collectable trading card, distributed by its handler, that includes the dog’s name, age, weight and training certifications. Customers can meet the dogs at designated interaction areas in Terminal B, both before and after security. There also will be roaming therapy handlers throughout the terminal.
Customers are encouraged to take photos with the therapy dogs and share on social media platforms with the hashtag #DogsofDFW. Customers who post three photos to social media over a period of time will earn “DFW Terminal Bucks” or DFW-branded items.
DFW Airport joins the ranks of numerous international airports with pet therapy programs. By 2017, DFW plans to expand the DFW K9 Crew program to over 60 handler teams throughout all terminals.