Pets

/

Home & Leisure

'Better than a bloody Mary': Therapy dogs to provide comfort at Ohio airport

Dean Narciso, The Columbus Dispatch on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jabbar Fant isn't a big fan of flying.

"Actually, I hate it," the 48-year-old computer analyst said Thursday morning, shortly before boarding a flight for Houston to visit his niece.

He had a heart transplant five years ago and isn't allowed to own pets. But he loves dogs and knows their therapeutic benefits, recalling stress-relieving canine visits while he was hospitalized.

So he was quick to meet Gatsby, an American Staffordshire Terrier, newly "sworn in" during a tail-wagging ceremony inside John Glenn Columbus International Airport Thursday.

Gatsby is one of 10 trained dogs, certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, who, along with their owners, will be volunteering inside the security checkpoints of the airport.

Called Paw Force One, the new program allows the dogs to roam the airport terminal, interact with passengers and lessen the stress of air travel.

 

Gatsby's owner, Tammy Stemen, of the North Side, said her pooch doesn't have to do much to please others.

"People see him and they just smile because he's such a happy dog."

Airports have tried to ease the stress of air travel with massage tables, lounges and calming stations. Columbus has an interfaith meditation room in the baggage claim area.

Local airport officials had heard of several dozen other North American airports with therapy dogs and saw the program as a natural fit.

...continued

swipe to next page
©2021 www.dispatch.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.