(Los Angeles) , Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) celebrated the 10th anniversary of the he world-famous Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) program at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with a pup parade and special giveaways for departing passengers.
“The LAX PUPs are wonderful ambassadors for our airport as each year they welcome millions of guests and help ease the travel experience with their calm and friendly demeanor,” said Michael Christensen, Chief of Operations and Maintenance, LAWA. “We are proud of the program’s legacy and influence on similar airport therapy dog programs, and we thank all of the dogs and handlers who have volunteered over the years to make the program a success.”
The celebration took place in Terminal 1 in partnership with Southwest Airlines whose representatives provided commemorative giveaways for passengers. Then, in true Hollywood style, more than a dozen dogs paraded down the red carpet with their handlers who stopped for interviews and photos by the pup-arazzi. Afterwards, the dogs greeted guests in the gate area, posing for more pictures and doing what they do best, spreading smiles and joy to LAX passengers.
The LAX PUPs program is a division of LAX Guest Services and began in April 2013 to enhance the passenger experience at the airport. The world-renowned program has served as a model for more than 90 airports which have started similar programs nationally and internationally.
Ten years ago, the program launched with 30 therapy dogs. To date, the program has grown to 80 canine participants and handlers who volunteer their time to meet and greett passengers in every LAX terminal and help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is often associated with flying.
“There is nothing better than seeing our passengers take a moment during their busy travels to stop and pet one of our therapy dogs,” said Heidi Huebner, LAX PUPs Program Director. “We are grateful to Southwest Airlines for helping us recognize and the benefits of this program, and for helping us celebrate our tenth anniversary in a memorable way.”
Dogs of all sizes and breeds are welcome to apply to join the program as long as the animals and handlers meet the program’s requirements, including serving at least one year with a recognized pet therapy organization. All the dogs are privately owned, and the majority come from local shelters or rescue groups.
For more information about the PUPs program, including an overview and volunteer application, visit our website.