'Pet before you jet:' Comfort dogs are now at Orlando airport

Pilot program underway

ORLANDO, Fla. – Your trip to Orlando International Airport just got a lot cuter.

On Friday, officials with the airport announced the launch of the all-new MCO Paw Pilots program, which allows travelers to pet, cuddle and kiss certified therapy dogs.

Video from the debut shows the dogs made their first public appearance by a "pet before you jet" sign adorned with a smiling golden retriever. Each pup wore a vest with its name and a message encouraging anyone interested to pet the canine.

"We understand that travel can be stressful and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority wants to try something new to enhance the customer experience," said Brian Engle, GOAA's director of customer experience. "Our Paw Pilots will offer the right balance of comfort and cuddles with our team of vetted therapy dogs and their handlers."

The dogs will be located in the main terminal building in two-hour increments throughout the week as volunteer schedules allow. They will not be located at the gates.

OIA officials partnered with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs to screen dogs participating in the program, as well as their handlers. Each canine has been a certified therapy dog for at least two years and has passed necessary screenings before taking part in the program.

MCO Paw Pilots will be evaluated in 2020 to determine whether it will be added to the airport on a long-term basis.

These are the dogs currently participating:

  • Annabel, golden retriever
  • Annie, golden retriever
  • Fifi, miniature schnauzer
  • Daisy-Mai, Pomeranian 
  • Jora, golden and Labrador retriever mix
  • Essie, possibly a corgi-border collie mix
  • Tori, German shepherd
  • Farley, bearded and border collie mix
  • Woody, basset hound

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