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According to research, stroking animals such as dogs and cats can help to dramatically reduce stress and anxiety, which is why San Francisco International Airport first initiated their ‘SFO Wag Brigade’ in December 2013.
Their mission was to bring trained animals into their airport terminals, to reduce passenger stress and make travelling a more enjoyable experience, and now they have over 300 dog, cat and rabbit volunteer teams. However, they have now decided to add a new member to their team – LiLou the pig.
LiLou is the first known therapy pig in the United States, and frequently visits airports, senior centres and hospitals to show off her outfits, painted nails and array of tricks.
The SF SPCA certifies all animals before they are ‘hired’, and each animal is carefully chosen based on its individual temperament and suitability for the job. Once selected, they walk around the airport wearing ‘pet me’ vests, to encourage travellers to interact with them, and hopefully relieve their stress.
Los Angeles, San Jose, Miami and Edmonton in Canada also use the programme.
If you’re a nervous traveller, keep your eyes peeled for therapy pets during your next journey. If your chosen airport isn’t part of the programme, here are some quick tips on distressing during travel;
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