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AirPAWS program brings therapy dogs to John Wayne Airport to soothe the stress of anxious travelers

AirPAWS
From left, Lanette Rodarte of Washington with her children Luella, 2, Jaeger, 6, and Lara, 7, as they pet a therapy dog named Patriot during a news conference for the new AirPAWS program at John Wayne Airport. The program deploys therapy dogs throughout the airport to ease the anxieties of travelers.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Stressed travelers at John Wayne Airport can now find solace in the presence of therapy dogs after the launch of its AirPAWS program on Wednesday.

The program — a collaboration between the county, airport and OC Animal Allies — deploys dogs throughout John Wayne in an effort to diminish the stress of anxious fliers.

“It is a great honor to implement the AirPAWS program, bringing joy and comfort to the travelers passing through John Wayne Airport,” Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said in a news release. “More importantly, we are giving new life to animals in need with the positive attention they certainly deserve.”

AirPAWS
Orange County Supervisors Don Wagner, center, and Michelle Steel play with therapy dog Adobe during a news conference for the new AirPAWS Pet Therapy program at John Wayne Airport.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
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The “animal ambassadors” will be provided by OC Animal Allies, a nonprofit animal welfare organization founded in 1984 that works with rescue animals.

The nonprofit certifies therapy dogs to aid special needs children and seniors.

The group also partners with the Orange County district attorney’s office to help comfort child victims of sexual assault, among other programs.

Research suggests that interaction with dogs can reduce the stress hormone cortisol. About 60 airports in the country have similar programs to AirPAWS.

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