Dogs to comfort your travel woes are back at Orlando International Airport after pandemic hiatus

Paw Pilots program back in action in North Terminal

A friendly looking pup
A friendly looking pup (Svetozar Milashevich/Pexels stock image)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Traveling can be stressful but Orlando International Airport is bringing back its Paw Pilot dogs to ease those travel woes after a year-long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pups are back but with precautions as COVID-19 is still very much a concern. The program first launched in 2019, allowing travelers in the North Terminal to hang out for a bit with certified therapy dogs. Nine dogs were part of the program giving out doggy love and joy.

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When COVID-19 cases started to rise the program was halted to prevent crowds from gathering around the Paw Pilots in action.

“It was our hope to bring back the MCO Paw Pilots as soon as it was safe to do so, while the community continues to fight the public health crisis,” Greater Orlando Aviation Authority director of customer experience Brian Engle said in a statement. “We’re so glad the timing feels right to resume this customer service initiative in an updated way that provides enhanced safety measures for the dogs, their handlers and our passengers.”

Airport officials said the Paw Pilot pups will now be stationed near concessions across from the North Terminal food court. Anyone who wants some free petting time will be asked to line up in a special area and wait their turn. Each guest will be provided with hand sanitizer before being able to greet the dogs and their handlers. Masks must be worn at all times.

According to a news release, crowd favorite Annabel, a golden retriever, will be among the dogs visiting the North Terminal once again.