Airport Therapy Animals Take Stress Out of Travel

A member of the Canine Airport Therapy Squad greets a visitor at the Denver International Airport. Sue McDonald/Shutterstock

Whether you hate to fly or just dread the security lines, airports can be stressful places. There's the race for the gates, the lugging of luggage and the general anxiety of going from one place to another and getting there safe and sound.

To make the road to the friendly skies more soothing, dozens of airports have called upon therapy dogs to stroll the concourses. These waggy-tailed ambassadors often wear brightly colored vests emblazoned with "Pet me!" inviting weary travelers to let their anxieties fade with some simple canine counseling.

The idea was launched after Sept. 11, 2011, when a volunteer at the Mineta San José International Airport brought her certified therapy dog, a boxer/great Dane mix named Orion, to the airport hoping it would calm passengers' fears about flying, reports USA Today. San José now has more than a dozen teams of dogs and handlers and has been used as a model for many airports around the country.

"We've had many very touching encounters with airport employees and travelers," said Kyra Hubis, who visited the airport with her golden retriever, Henry James. "It's especially poignant to see soldiers being deployed hugging Henry James and telling him to 'take care of the house' while they're gone."

Now, airports from Miami to San Francisco to Oklahoma City to Charlotte, employ these furry diplomats. The pets are all sizes and breeds. The only requirements are that they love lots of petting and hugging and have to be certified by a national agency.

And surprisingly, they're not all dogs. The latest member of the airline ambassadors is a tutu-wearing pig! Take a look at the video below and let us know if you've seen any other animal therapy friends at the airport!