Therapy dogs at Sunport help ease stress of traveling

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the crowds, and the lines, flying can be stressful. So, the Sunport has come up with a way to calm you down when you travel.

More than a dozen therapy dogs are joining the thousands of passengers at the airport, and passengers said they create a warm atmosphere and are a nice distraction.

One of them is known as “Turbo,” and he loves people.

“He especially loves guys with beards. He always likes to lick a beard,” said Bonnie Hughes, a Sunport Ambassador.

Turbo is one of 15 K-9 ambassadors you can find at the Sunport. They are certified therapy dogs that bring a piece of home to travelers.

“A lot of people come up to me and say, I have a boxer or I used to have a boxer, or I grew up with a boxer,” said Hughes.

Travelers KRQE News 13 spoke with said airports can be stressful.

“Waiting in line at security, even if you have nothing to be concerned about or whatever, it still makes you nervous for some reason,” said Lesly Stern, a traveler.

That’s why the Sunport started the Ambassador program four years ago, 70 volunteers are there to help answer any questions or to just be a friendly face.

“Folks assisting passengers in the terminal. Where’s my gate, where’s a good place to eat, where’s the restroom,” said Daniel Jiron, of the Albuquerque International Sunport.

The therapy dogs joined the ambassadors a year and half ago. The Sunport said passengers love them.

“We recently received an email with a couple who had some issues with their flight, they came across the therapy dogs and were able to destress,” said Jiron.

“When I see a dog, my blood pressure drops, I just feel ah, I get all excited,” said Lesly Stern, a traveler.

The Sunport said it’s the sacrifice of the volunteers that make this program so successful.

“It takes a special kind of person to give their time,” said Jiron.

The Sunport said they plan to expand their ambassador program including the number of therapy dogs. Because of the strict security requirements at an airport, the volunteers go through a rigorous background check.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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