There is a saying that “If the pigs fly …”, it has almost been fulfilled at the San Francisco airport. The SFO has presented this week its first therapy pig for stressed or fearful travelers. The pig, Juliana, is called LiLou and is part of its “Wag Brigade” program. LiLou strolls through the airport with his beautiful costumes and painted nails to the surprise of the travelers.
Animal therapy at San Francisco Airport
Liu belongs to the animal therapy program at the San Francisco airport. This program, launched in 2013, is called “Wag Brigade”. This project is made up of 300 animals, and there are dogs, cats, rabbits and now, a pig. They are trained animals to make the trip more enjoyable for passengers. These “airport companions” are chosen for their calm and friendly temperament. All have been chosen under a careful procedure.
The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) association certifies these animals through its Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program to tour the terminals. The animals wear identification vests where it says “Pet Me!”, race and size. By the way, if you want to be informed of the footsteps of the little pig LiLou, you can not miss your own Instagram
Therapeutic animals at airports
San Francisco is not the first airport (nor will it be the last) to turn to animals to calm its passengers. These animals are used in queues, in delays, in people who are afraid of flying … There are other airports that have resorted to them like the one in San Diego that opted to bring animals and clowns to calm the tensions produced by a delay.
At the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport, they introduced “therapy unicorns” (strange, but true). They were horses with the mane painted in neon and pastel colors. Some animals even board the plane to reassure travelers during the flight as was the case with a duck and a therapy turkey, which were seen this year on different American flights.
The benefits of animal therapy
Animals are man’s best friend, but they can also have a lot of benefits to people. Therapeutic animals are used to help Alzheimer’s patients, autistic, disabled children, elderly people or those with health problems … But, they are also beneficial for anyone.
The simple act of petting an animal makes us relax. It also reduces anxiety, feelings of abandonment, anger, and stress. These problems can occur before catching a plane, so animals are highly recommended for people who are afraid of flying or suffer from occasional stress (at the airport).
Therapeutic animals also improve attention and concentration , because having them close before flying, the traveler is distracted and does not think about their discomfort. In the emotional field, it fosters affectivity and empathy. It also relieves feelings of loneliness and improves self-esteem and confidence. Animals also improve sociability. In short, put an animal in your life. All are advantages.