On October 1, 2015, Airport Foundation MSP brought “therapy” dogs to the MSP terminals to make passenger travel more enjoyable. A therapy dog is a specially trained animal that partners with its human handler to volunteer at a variety of facilities and events, bringing joy, comfort, and companionship to those they meet. The dogs and their handlers participate in casual “meet and greet” activities that involve pets visiting people.
A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy animals must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.
For people who like dogs and are not extremely allergic, these animals have a proven calming effect. Just as people soften with the smile of a stranger, dogs can lighten a heavy mood. Research shows that positive interactions with animals increase endorphins, oxytocin, prolactin and dopamine, the hormones associated with blood pressure regulation, pain relief, stress relief and joy.
The dogs and handlers must pass an evaluation with their animal in order to become a registered therapy animal team.
The handlers are trained to be considerate of people who may have allergies or do not like animals. They watch non-verbal cues and ask before allowing the animals to approach individuals.
Registered therapy dog teams wishing to volunteer as a MSP Animal Ambassador may contact Travelers Assistance through this online form.