Bradley International Airport in Connecticut is joining the growing list of airports that have therapy dogs in their employ. Just in time for the holidays, Bradley International is bringing in therapy dogs through a partnership with Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc., with the aim of soothing stressed travelers.
A number of other airports have rolled out therapy dog programs over the years, including LAX, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix, Denver, and San Jose. According to San Diego Airport, more than 30 airports across the country now have a therapy dog program. Several Canadian airports have also jumped in on the action as well.
While pet-loving passengers seem pleased with the programs, there remains scant evidence that therapy animals actually do anything to reduce stress.
A series of studies published earlier this year in the Journal of Applied Developmental Science noted that while the practice is increasingly widespread, the field of animal-assisted intervention (AAI) “currently lacks a unified, widely accepted or empirically supported theoretical framework for explaining how and why AAI is potentially therapeutic.” The Journal notes that research into the efficacy of the practice “remains in its infancy.”
Proven stress relievers or not, don’t miss your chance to play with some cuddly pooches at participating airports. Or, if you’re flying through San Francisco or Albany, you might come across therapy pigs LiLou and Bacon Bits. We kid you not.