Ottawa International Airport and St. John’s Ambulance bring dog days to travellers

The new pet therapy program is meant to help alleviate the anxiety that is often associated with traveling. 

By: Mideline Bony

The Ottawa International Airport Authority (OIAA) is launching its new therapy dog program with St. John’s Ambulance. Their collaboration is meant to improve their travelers’ experience.

Canines will now be available at the airport for petting and play, most Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Participating dogs can be found inside the Canada/International holdroom and identified by red bandanas. On Thursday, OIAA hosted a meet and greet to welcome a group of therapy dogs as well as their owners and handlers from St. John’s Ambulance. 

“St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program has grown to become a recognized leader in animal-assisted intervention,” says Lisa Paul, St. John Ambulance’s director of learning, operations and community services. “We look forward to our partnership with the Ottawa International Airport Authority, enabling us to reach thousands of people in Ottawa, bringing comfort, joy, and companionship during their travels.”

According to OIAA, over the last few years, they received many requests asking to implement a therapy dog program to help alleviate the anxiety often associated with traveling. As a result, they developed a program that features a security-based Canine Unit to bring comfort to passengers. 

“Therapy dog programs have been implemented in many airports worldwide and are well known for reducing stress and providing comfort to passengers,” says Mark Laroche, Ottawa International Airport Authority’s president and CEO. “There are many changes happening at YOW that are focused on improving the customer experience – we think this particular one will be a passenger favourite.”

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