Working like a dog: Companies find benefits in going pet-friendly

(BPT) – It’s fair to call Charger a bull in a china shop. Well, at least a pit bull. The charming nine-year-old has a full-time job in the marketing department at dinnerware giant Replacements, Ltd.

“Charger’s been coming to Replacements since I rescued him from the side of a road as a puppy, so he’s really grown up here,” says Kevin Boyd. “Coming to work is great for Charger because he’s able to engage with people and other dogs so it’s really helped him become more sociable; he has so many friends who give him treats or want to take him for walks. Having him here helps me relax because I know he’s not home alone and really creates special moments in the day, like having him sit in my lap while I’m working.”

Charger is among dozens of pets you’ll find at Replacements. A walk through the warehouse and you’ll see dogs riding on carts pushed by their owners or perhaps encounter a cat or two. An opossum riding high on the shoulder of her human friend even graced the company’s retail store with a visit.

Replacements implemented its pet-friendly policy more than 20 years ago, after Founder and CEO Bob Page received a dog for his birthday and couldn’t bear to leave him home alone. Fast-forward two decades, and national and international media have repeatedly recognized Replacements as one of the top pet-friendly businesses in the country. The company invites all employees and customers to bring their pets to work or shop; in fact, Replacements’ front doors read, “All Well-Behaved Pets Welcome.”

Gaining scientific support

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University spent a week at Replacements, focusing specifically on the impact of dogs in the workplace. The VCU team monitored stress levels among three test groups: those who brought their dogs to work every day, dog owners who left their pets at home, and those who do not own any pets.

“We were surprised to find that stress actually decreased throughout the day among those who brought their dogs to work, while stress levels significantly increased for those who left their dogs at home,” says principal researcher Dr. Randy Barker. “About half of those who bring their dogs to work said their productivity increased with their dog present. Some employees even commented that the presence of pets increases cooperation and builds relationships among coworkers.”

Barker also notes employees overall had higher job satisfaction than industry norms. He believes establishing pet-friendly policies could be a great benefit that doesn’t hamper a company’s bottom line. “I think leadership in many organizations may be hesitant to allow animals in the workplace, but our study indicates pet presence may serve as a low-cost wellness intervention that may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support.”

Getting started as a pet-friendly workplace

Replacements hears from large and small companies across the country wanting to start similar practices and policies. Their best advice? Start small.

“Consider having a pilot day to gauge how a pet presence works for your organization,” says Public Relations Manager Lisa Conklin. “You might try allowing pets for a half day or a Friday to determine the best fit for your employees and your business. Being pet-friendly is truly a huge part of our corporate culture — so many of our employees tell us it’s one of the best benefits the company offers.”

Replacements’ formal pet policy requires all animals must be current on vaccinations, polite to people and other pets, and stay on a leash near their owners unless contained in an office or cubicle space. Owners are also required to clean up after any accidents.

Conklin adds pet owners must be sensitive to the fact some people have allergies or may be fearful of animals. Likewise, other employees aren’t allowed to aggravate or intimidate pets. “We’ve seen many instances where employees actually got to know each other better through their pets. Seriously, it’s hard not to smile when you’re greeted by a wagging tail and friendly face!”

What You Need To Know About Dog Flu

As animal experts around the country amplify their warnings about dog flu outbreaks, pet owners are scrambling to understand the illness and learn how they can protect their pets. The virus has been circulating in the U.S. since 2015, infecting thousands of dogs throughout much of the country. In May 2017, several cases were confirmed for the first time in Florida.

Here’s what you need to know about this potentially deadly disease.

What is the dog flu?

Dog flu — or canine influenza — is an infection caused by one of two virus strains: H3N2 and H3N8. Of the two, H3N2 is more commonly seen in pets in the U.S. It is thought that the strain came from Asia, possibly originating as an avian flu that was transferred to a dog.

Dog flu symptoms

Like the flu that affects humans, the symptoms of the dog flu hit the respiratory system causing coughing, a runny nose, watery eyes and a sore throat. It’s also usually accompanied by a high fever and loss of appetite. But unlike with humans, your dog won’t be able to tell you how bad she is feeling, and you may not notice the symptoms right away. Animal experts say to watch your dog for changes in behavior. If your normally hyper dog seems lethargic or if your pup who is usually enthusiastic about eating starts skipping meals, it’s time to take a closer look.

How does the dog flu spread?

The dog flu virus spreads just like the human flu virus does — through bodily fluids that are released into the air via a sneeze or cough or by touching objects or surfaces that have been contaminated. The dog flu virus can live in the environment for two days.

Dogs that spend a lot of time around other dogs — in dog parks, kennels, shelters, groomers or veterinary clinics — are the most likely to contract the illness.

What to do if your dog gets the flu

Older dogs, younger dogs and dogs that are already sick are the most vulnerable when it comes to the dog flu, not because of the virus itself, but because these dogs are the most likely to develop complications, like pneumonia, that could be fatal. If you think your dog may have the flu, it’s important to check in with your vet to make sure he isn’t getting any worse.

At home, you can keep track of your dog’s temperature by placing a thermometer under her armpit, or for a more accurate reading, in her backside. According to the American Kennel Club the normal range for a dog’s temperature should be between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius.)

Keep the fluids going as much as possible and try to entice your pooch to keep eating. Check with your vet about foods that may prompt him to eat without giving him a stomachache.

More than anything, give your pet plenty of time for R&R. Give her a week or so off from running, walking and other forms of exercise and just let her rest and sleep as much as she needs. Just make sure that she is still drinking, eating a little, and relieving herself.

How you can keep your dog from getting the flu?

The best way to minimize your dog’s risk of getting the flu is to keep her away from other dogs. If you spend time with other dogs, be sure to wash your hands and even change your clothes before interacting with your own dog. While humans can’t contract canine influenza, we can carry the virus on our hands and clothing for up to 24 hours after handling an infected dog.

You could also talk to your vet about a dog flu vaccine, although there is some question about its effectiveness as the vaccine for H3N8 may not offer protection from H3N2 and vice versa.

Dogs Are the Most Admired Animal, Fish Are the Least

Humans are biased about pretty much everything, including, it turns out, animals.

We were struck by a recent report that included a chart on animal stereotypes, based on a 2015 study from Princeton’s Susan T. Fiske and Verónica Sevillano of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

The study asked 135 Americans to rate animals for warmth and competence, two factors that have been shown to play a major role in how we view almost everything. In short, we feel admiration for things rated warm and competent; contempt for the cold and incompetent; pity for the warm and incompetent; and envy for the cold and competent.

It turns out humans admire the hell out of dogs, with cats, horses, and monkeys as runners-up. These animals were grouped in the study as “companion” animals.

Meanwhile, lions, tigers, and bears — the “predators” — are seen as fairly competent but cold. The likes of rabbits, hamsters, and ducks — “prey” — are seen as warm but incompetent. Fish, lizards, snakes — called, perhaps unfairly, “pests” — are seen as cold and incompetent.

Animal stereotyping, as with most stereotyping, can be harmful if unchecked. As Fiske and Sevillano note: “[T]he negative image of hyenas in the United States makes them a perfect target for aggressive human practices. Recently, the image of wolves in the Unites States has suffered the same fate.”

It’s National Pet Day! Here Are Some Studies That Prove Pets Are Good For Your Health

If you have pets you already know the joy and love they bring to your life. Now science is confirming just how good they really are for you — both mentally and physically.

How do they help? One theory is that pets boost our oxytocin levels. Also known as the “bonding hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin enhances social skills, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, boosts immune function and raises tolerance for pain. It also lowers stress, anger and depression.

No surprise then that keeping regular company with a dog or cat (or another beloved beast) appears to offer all these same benefits and more. Read on to discover the many impressive ways a pet can make you healthier, happier and more resilient.

1. Pets alleviate allergies and boost immune function

One of your immune system’s jobs is to identify potentially harmful substances and unleash antibodies to ward off the threat. But sometimes it overreacts and misidentifies harmless stuff as dangerous, causing an allergic reaction. Think red eyes, itchy skin, runny nose and wheezing. You’d think that having pets might trigger allergies by kicking up sneeze-and-wheeze-inducing dander and fur. But it turns out that living with a dog or cat during the first year of life not only cuts your chances of having pet allergies in childhood and later on but also revs up your immune system and lowers your risk of eczema and asthma. In fact, just a brief pet encounter can invigorate your disease-defense system. In one study, petting a dog for only 18 minutes raised immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in college students’ saliva, a sign of robust immune function.

2. Pets up your fitness quotient

This one applies more to dog owners. If you like walking with your favorite canine, chances are you’re fitter and trimmer than your non-dog-walking counterparts and come closer to meeting recommended physical activity levels. One study of more than 2,000 adults found that regular dog walkers got more exercise and were less likely to be obese than those who didn’t walk a dog. In another study, older dog walkers (ages 71-82) walked faster and longer than non-pooch-walkers, plus they were more mobile at home.

3. Pets dial down stress

When stress comes your way, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing hormones like cortisol to crank out more energy-boosting blood sugar and epinephrine to get your heart and blood pumping. All well and good for our ancestors who needed quick bursts of speed to dodge predatory saber-toothed tigers and stampeding mastodons. But when we live in a constant state of fight-or-flight from ongoing stress at work and the frenetic pace of modern life, these physical changes take their toll on our bodies, including raising our risk of heart disease and other dangerous conditions. Contact with pets seem to counteract this stress response by lowering stress hormones and heart rate. They also lower anxiety and fear levels (psychological responses to stress) and elevate feelings of calmness.

4. Pets boost heart health

Pets shower us with love so it’s not surprising they have a big impact on our love organ: the heart. Turns out time spent with a cherished critter is linked to better cardiovascular health, possibly due to the stress-busting effect mentioned above. Studies show that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dogs also benefit patients who already have cardiovascular disease. They’re not only four time more likely to be alive after a year if they own a dog, but they’re also more likely to survive a heart attack. And don’t worry, cat owners — feline affection confers a similar effect. One 10-year study found that current and former cat owners were 40 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack and 30 percent less likely to die of other cardiovascular diseases.

5. Make you a social — and date — magnet

Four-legged companions (particularly the canine variety that pull us out of the house for daily walks) help us make more friends and appear more approachable, trustworthy and date-worthy. In one study, people in wheelchairs who had a dog received more smiles and had more conversations with passersby than those without a dog. In another study, college students who were asked to watch videos of two psychotherapists (depicted once with a dog and once without) said they felt more positively toward them when they had a dog and more likely to disclose personal information. And good news for guys: research shows that women are more willing to give out their number to men with a canine buddy.

6. Provides a social salve for Alzheimer’s patients

Just as non-human pals strengthen our social skills and connection, cats and dogs also offer furry, friendly comfort and social bonding to people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of brain-destroying dementia. Several canine caregiver programs now exist to assist at-home dementia patients with day-to-day tasks, such as fetching medication, reminding them to eat and guiding them home if they’ve wandered off course. Many assisted-living facilities also keep resident pets or offer therapy animal visits to support and stimulate patients. Studies show creature companions can reduce behavioral issues among dementia patients by boosting their moods and raising their nutritional intake.

7. Enhances social skills in kids with autism

One in nearly 70 American kids has autism (also known as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD), a developmental disability that makes it tough to communicate and interact socially. Not surprisingly, animals can also help these kids connect better to others. One study found that youngsters with ASD talked and laughed more, whined and cried less and were more social with peers when guinea pigs were present. A multitude of ASD animal-assisted therapy programs have sprung up in recent years, featuring everything from dogs and dolphins to alpacas, horses and even chickens.

8. Dampens depression and boosts mood

Pets keep loneliness and isolation at bay and make us smile. In other words, their creature camaraderie and ability to keep us engaged in daily life (via endearing demands for food, attention and walks) are good recipes for warding off the blues. Research is ongoing, but animal-assisted therapy is proving particularly potent in deterring depression and other mood disorders. Studies show that everyone from older men in a veterans hospital who were exposed to an aviary filled with songbirds to depressed college students who spent time with dogs reported feeling more positive.

9. Defeats PTSD

People haunted by trauma like combat, assault and natural disasters are particularly vulnerable to a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sure enough, studies show that the unconditional love — and oxytocin boost — of a pet can help remedy the flashbacks, emotional numbness and angry outbursts linked to PTSD. Even better, there are now several programs that pair specially trained service dogs and cats with veterans suffering from PTSD.

10. Fights cancer

Animal-assisted therapy helps cancer patients heal emotionally and physically. Preliminary findings of a clinical trial by the American Humane Association shows that therapy dogs not only erase loneliness, depression and stress in kids fighting cancer, but canines can also motivate them to eat and follow treatment recommendations better — in other words participate more actively in their own healing. Likewise, new research reveals a similar lift in emotional well-being for adults undergoing the physical rigors of cancer treatment. Even more astounding, dogs (with their stellar smelling skills) are now being trained to literally sniff out cancer.

Travel: The Ultimate Pet-Friendly Road Trip

If your furry friend is your best friend, you simply cannot go on a cross-country road trip solo. Amy and Rob Burkert understand this, and thus they took it upon themselves to create the “Ultimate Pet-Friendly Road Trip” so that you and your best buddy (or buddies) can enjoy a journey together without fear that one of you may have to wait in the car while the other gets to savor the scenery.

On Gopetfriendly.com, the Burkets formuated the perfect road trip to take with pets; it covers 48 states and includes a pet-friendly attraction in each. To test it out, Amy and Rob will be spending the next 10 months trekking it themselves with their dogs, Ty and Buster. “Each selection had to represent the spirit of that state and, in combination, they needed to communicate the diversity of pet friendly adventures to be had across the country,” said Amy in a blog post on the website.

From the kickoff on the beach in Carmel, California, to the final destination of Portland’s Parks and Gardens in November 2017, the adventure is nothing short of diverse. The only possible repercussion of this trip is that your dog may feel he is too cultured for your local dog park after frolicking through the National Mall in D.C. and the Biltmore Estate Gardens in North Carolina.

Why Your Dog Is The Ideal Valentine

The beginning of the year can be stressful, with New Year’s resolutions and Valentine’s Day, which is a huge deal even if you’re one of those people who claims that they don’t care. Valentine’s Day is hard to forget and it sometimes adds all kinds of pressure on people.

Couples tend to become unbearable over social media and basically every store within sight is filled with teddy bears and heart shaped candies. The struggle is real.

We’ve concluded that the perfect date for the world and yourself is your dog. Don’t believe us? Here are some reasons that might change your mind.

You Guys Are So Cute Together

Instead of becoming one of those people, you can treat your social media friends to a photo they might actually want to see. A cute selfie with your dog is never annoying or out of place, and you can be sure no one will be rolling their eyes at you and claiming that you’re looking for attention.

Exercising Together Is Fun

Dog parks are surreal places that make you feel like you’re somewhere where dreams can come true. Is there a better way to raise your spirits than to be surrounded by lovable pups?

No, there’s not.

Bring Your Valentine To Work

Since V-Day is the type of boring holiday where you still have to go to work, you can bring your dog and add some pep to your co-worker’s step. They’ll be thankful.

Ordering Take Out Is Easy

You won’t have to share. Wait, yes you do.

No Judgement

Your dog won’t care what you’re wearing or how your hair looks. Spend the night in and catch up on a movie or your favorite show. You won’t be disturbed.

Cuddles!

Dog snuggles are amazing. There are few things that are better than the moment when your dog falls asleep on your lap and you decide you’re not moving for the rest of the night.

No Fighting

It sounds a little bleak but be sure to enjoy the silent companionship that only a pet can offer.

There will be no arguing over which movie to pick, or which restaurant to go to. Just peaceful cuddles.

Quality Time At It’s  Best

It’s hard to remember to spend some quality time with your pet during the hustle of everyday life and work, but be sure to appreciate them on this special date. It’s good for your health!

Cheap Date

You won’t have to worry over chocolates, gifts and an expensive dinner. You’re dog isn’t after your wallet, and they won’t get offended if you don’t give them the most expensive gourmet treat.

Unconditional Love

The best reason of all. Your dog will be over the moon just because they get to spend some alone time with you.

Retired Circus Animals Leave The Big Top Behind For New Roles As Therapy Animals

When the Big Apple Circus closed midyear in 2016, it wasn’t just animal trainer Jenny Vidbel who found herself unemployed. The dogs and horses she had rescued over the years were now jobless too. Vidbel owned the well-trained menagerie so they retired with her to her 70-acre farm in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.

But “retired” is a relative term, especially when it comes to a third-generation circus performer and animals who certainly appear to enjoy an appreciative audience. Inspired by Big Apple’s programs for children with special needs, Vidbel created a foundation that will offer animal-based therapy for people, while benefiting the horses, dogs and the occasional pig that make up its starring cast.

“It’s about mentally healing one another. I know what animals have done for me and my life and what joy and peace they’ve given to me,” Vidbel states. “I saw it later in life when my grandparents couldn’t be alone anymore and they traveled with me in the circus. I could see how they benefited from the animals and the animals benefited from them being around. It was perfect on both ends and a beautiful relationship.”

‘Animals need a job’

Vidbel knows her animals well and is convinced that they wouldn’t be content spending their retirement grazing in a pasture with nothing to do.

“Animals need a job; they need to work,” she says. “Animals need to engage and particularly circus animals because they’re so used to human attention. Every time I go to practice with one horse, I have three horses looking at me, ‘When is it my turn?'”

The new nonprofit is the Al and Joyce Vidbel Foundation, named for Vidbel’s grandparents. For years, people visited their farm — where the animals are today — to learn how to work with animals.

“The foundation is named after my grandparents because they were such an inspiration to me and they taught me how to respect animals,” Vidbel says. “They’re why I fell in love with them and was around them so much as a little girl. This farm was an inspiration to so many people. We still get calls from people saying, ‘This farm changed my life.'”

Fulfilling tradition and destiny

Vidbel and her animal performers continue to do small shows here and there while the foundation raises money to get the programs up and running, which will include building an amphitheater for performances. Vidbel plans to open the program to seniors, special needs children and those who are economically disadvantaged. They may be able to take part in hands-on animal care, watch training sessions and experience the animals performing in intimate settings.

Right now, there are 30 horses, seven dogs and four pigs on the farm, but Vidbel says she continues to adopt horses in need of rescuing. She has the space, not to mention the abilities to train hard-to-rehabilitate animals that may not get a second look at a feed lot auction.

“I always say I couldn’t believe I got paid to do what I did. I got to tour the world, be with amazing people and be with my animals,” Vidbel says. “Now, the amount of support we’ve had (for the foundation) has been amazing and reassures me we’re on the right track … I feel like I’m carrying on a tradition and a destiny.”

New Study Claims That Dogs Love Reggae Because It Helps Them Chill

Dogs love the sound of reggae music as it has a calming effect on them, a new study of canine behavior has found.

The research discovered that dogs ‘ stress levels decreased significantly after the music was played into their kennels.

The Scottish SPCA, Scotland’s animal welfare charity, carried out a music experiment at their rehoming center in Dumbarton in partnership with the University of Glasgow.

It suggested dogs have different music tastes but reggae music, popularized by Bob Marley, and soft rock music by bands like Fleetwood Mac and Foreigner were firm favorites.

As a result of the study, the charity are to buy sound systems to pipe music into the kennels of their rehoming centers across the country.

Neil Evans Professor of Integrative Physiology at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, said: “Overall, the response to different genres was mixed highlighting the possibility that like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences.

“That being said, reggae music and soft rock showed the highest positive changes in behavior.”

Glasgow university PhD student Amy Bowman, who helped carry out the study, added: “The research, which took place at the Scottish SPCA center in Dumbarton, clearly shows that music has an effect on a dog’s behavior.

“We were keen to explore the effect playing different genres of music had, and it was clear that the physiological and behavioral changes observed were maintained during the trial when the dogs were exposed to a variety of music.”

The Scottish SPCA previously released research in 2015 that showed the impact classical music had on a dog’s behaviour.

The study involved two groups of dogs being examined over a period of two weeks in a rescue and rehoming centre.

One group of dogs was observed in silence, whilst the other had classical music played into their kennels. The conditions were then switched in the second week.

In both groups the dogs’ stress levels, measured through heart rates, saliva samples and observation of behavior, decreased significantly after listening to music.

The dogs also spent less time standing and barking when the music was being played.

Gilly Mendes Ferreira, Scottish SPCA Head of Research and Policy, said “At present both our Glasgow and Edinburgh centers are able to pipe music into their kennels, and in the future every center will be able to offer our four footed friends a canine approved playlist, with the view to extending this research to other species in our care.”

Goat Yoga Is For Real, and People Are Loving It

The concept of combining yoga with the beauty and calming scenery of nature is in no way a new concept. There’s nature yoga, rooftop yoga and even the strangely serene—and surprisingly physically possible—practice of underwater yoga.

However, none of these are the reason that people are flocking by the thousands to Lainey Morse’s studio in Albany, Oregon. The thing that has put her yoga classes on the map is far more unexpected—because it’s goats.

Apparently, the idea of incorporating goats into yoga sessions came about when someone suggested that Morse should start holding classes outside at her farm. Since Morse’s farm is home to eight goats, it only seemed natural to let them stick around for the classes.

It’s not as if the goats are directly involved in the exercises—they’re more or less just there, calmly strolling around Morse’s barn and yard while the humans work through their stretches. Although the goats will sometimes approach people mid-workout for a quick cuddle, it’s mostly the calming environment that is making the experience so popular. Reviews on Morse’s Facebook page describe the experience as “relaxing,” “energizing,” “calming” and “natural.”

Word is spreading fast too. The wait list for Morse’s sessions has more than 1,200 names on it, and goat yoga has been featured by The Washington Post, CNN, VICE and the BBC.

To find out more about goat yoga—and possibly pray for a decent spot on the waiting list—you can check out Morse’s website.

Travel: The Most Dog-Friendly Airports in the U.S.

Flying with a dog, whether a pet or a service animal, isn’t the easiest undertaking. Travelers with larger dogs have to deal with the worrisome fact that their precious pet will have to fly in the cargo hold. Even if an airline allows smaller dogs to fly in the cabin, the trip could be less than straightforward. Will there be an issue at security? Where can the dog relieve itself once you get into the terminal? How will neighboring passengers respond?

But airports can be surprisingly accommodating to dogs, especially service animals. By law, every large airport in the United States has to have some sort of pet relief area in each terminal to accommodate people traveling with canine helpers.

Some hubs have even started programs geared towards travelers who need some four-legged support. These programs bring trained therapy canines into the terminal to sit with any passengers who want to take a break from the stresses of travel or who suffer from a fear of flying.

Here are 10 of the most dog-friendly airports in the U.S.

Denver International Airport

Denver International (DIA), the busiest hub airport in the Mountain West, features a state-of-the-art, in-terminal pet care facility. Paradise 4 Paws is a huge (25,000 square feet) venue that offers boarding for pets while their owners are traveling. The kennel area even has webcams so people can check in on their pooch online while they are on the road. Paradise also has 24-hour grooming services and indoor play areas. In addition to Denver, there are locations at Dallas Fort Worth International and at both of Chicago’s main airports.

The Colorado airport has pet relief rooms on each of its concourses. These are located on the airside after the TSA checkpoints. Owners who are in transit can walk their dogs without having to go back and forth through security, and those taking off from Denver can give their dog one final bathroom break before boarding. All these convenient in-terminal features make Denver one of the most dog-friendly airports in the country.

Minneapolis — Saint Paul

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International is another hub with multiple pet relief areas. The Minnesota airport has dedicated dog spaces outside both its terminals. The main terminal (Terminal 1) also has a pet “restroom” after security. The airport will provide an escort to take anyone with a service animal to an outdoor relief area if needed.

MSP’s Now Boarding offers pet boarding services to travelers flying out of the airport, and it’s open 24 hours a day. This facility is separate from the terminals, but pet owners get a perk when they leave their dog or cat here: Now Boarding offers 24-hour shuttle service to the terminal entrances. They will also pick you up when you get back so that you can be reunited with your pet as soon as possible after landing.

Detroit Metro

Detroit Metro is another major airport realizing the importance of catering to travelers with pets and service animals. The Michigan hub had service dogs in mind when it constructed a special airside pet relief area, which airport employees affectionately dubbed “Central Bark.” A section of this facility even has real grass.

DWC also has outdoor pet relief areas that are right next to the departures entrance (in the McNamara Terminal) and the arrivals area (in the North Terminal).

Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson

Hartsfield Jackson, the world’s busiest airport in terms of annual passenger volume, is another hub that makes pet owners feel welcome. The Atlanta airport has a 1,000-square-foot dog park near the ground transportation area of the domestic terminal.

Unlike most airport dog relief areas, this one actually deserves to be called a “park.” There are benches, complimentary biodegradable poop pickup bags and even a couple of charming dog sculptures. Since the park is fenced in, dogs can run without a leash and work off any excess energy before their flight. This summer, the airport announced it will be adding indoor pet areas on each of its concourses.

Reno Tahoe

Reno Tahoe doesn’t see as many transit passengers as the major hub airports, but it still deserves recognition for its pet-friendly attitude. Its outdoor dog facility, called the Bark Park, opened in 2004. The idea has proven so popular and gotten so much positive press for the airport that a second Bark Park was added in 2012. These parks are easy to find — just follow the artificial paw prints on the sidewalks.

The parks are surrounded by fences and are fully accessible, so they are ideal for service dogs as well as pets. As anyone who has been in Nevada during the summer will tell you, the sun can get very hot during the day. For this reason, the Bark Parks are covered with canopies.

San Diego

San Diego International has several pet relief areas and a unique program that brings dogs into the airport to comfort nervous fliers. SAN has three designated spaces for pets and service dogs. This includes an indoor, post-security option for transit passengers and dogs who need one last pit stop before boarding.

San Diego’s Ready Pet Go program brings trained dogs into the terminal to comfort nervous fliers and provide stress relief to travelers who just had to deal with long security checkpoint wait times and some of the other drawbacks of the airport experience. The dogs and their handlers are volunteers who take two-hour shifts and simply roam the concourses interacting with passengers. The program is a partnership between the airport, the Traveler’s Aid Society of San Diego and Therapy Dogs, Inc.

Washington Dulles

The main airport in the nation’s capital features no less than five pet-friendly areas. Three of these are typical outdoor spaces with natural grass (near the departures/ticketing entrances and adjacent to baggage claim) and these outdoor parks have complimentary bags and waste bins.

Dulles also has two indoor facilities, one serving the A and B concourses and one for passengers using the C and D gates. These post-security areas are covered with artificial K-9 grass. Even though they are inside, their L-shaped layout means dogs have enough space to move around. When the dog relieves itself, the owner can push a button on the wall to automatically rinse the ground in that part of the dog park.

Phoenix Sky Harbor

Phoenix Sky Harbor offers more than a patch of grass for traveling pets and service dogs. The Arizona airport has five separate areas for dogs. Three pre-security parks sit outside of terminals 2, 3 and 4. The airport has even given these spaces canine-specific names: the Pet Patch (T2), Paw Pad (T3) and Bone Yard (T4).

Unfortunately, Sky Harbor has yet to open any post-security relief rooms. There are, however, additional areas near two of PHX’s Skytrain stations in the parking section of the airport.

Philadelphia International

Philadelphia International is arguably the easiest airport in the country to travel with pets or service animals. The reason: Pet relief areas are located in each and every terminal inside the Pennsylvania hub. That means, no matter which gate you happen to be flying out of, you’ll be able to find a place for your dog not far away.

The airport took a unique approach to creating these in-terminal areas. The airlines that use the airport paid to convert seven 80-square-foot spaces into mini dog parks. The airport went ahead with the project despite critics who said the same seven plots could be used for retail spaces that could potentially earn millions in additional income for the airport each year

New York JFK

New York JFK is one of the most crowded (many call it “chaotic”) airports in the U.S. However, pet-owning travelers may find it welcoming — that is, if they fly out of the right terminal. JFK’s terminal 4 has its own pet bathroom, which is located right next to the “human” restrooms. Previously, pet owners who were in-transit or who wanted to make one final pit stop had to go back through the airport’s notoriously slow security.

JFK is also in the process of building a large terminal exclusively for pets. The cost of the project is $48 million. The investment could be worth the price when you consider that about 70,000 animals, from horses to dogs and cats, travel through the airport every year.