Future guide dogs had an opportunity to explore the Baltimore/Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport terminal including practice going through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint this evening (Oct. 23) so that they would be more familiar with the experience of traversing through an airport when they do need to catch a flight.
TSA officers screened 20 puppies and their trainers from the Baltimore Puppy Raising Region of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, as they came through the checkpoint in an effort to acclimate the future guide dogs with an important piece of the airport experience—the security checkpoint. The dogs also had the opportunity to explore other areas of the airport courtesy of the airport, which offered the dogs the chance to sniff around a check-in counter, gate area, pet relief area and the checked baggage pick-up carousels.
The familiarization opportunity will result in a smoother experience when the puppies graduate into certified guide dogs and return to take a flight, according to officials from Guiding Eyes. The familiarization exercise enables the canines and their trainers to know what to expect when the dogs and the people they are trained to guide, return with plans to take a flight.
The orientation session also served as a good review and reinforcement of TSA procedures for screening service animals for the TSA officers who were working at the checkpoint during the familiarization exercise.
“The orientation session was a hit with the dog trainers, the TSA officers and of course with the dogs. There was plenty of tail wagging,” said Grant Goodlett, TSA’s Deputy Federal Security Director for Maryland. “The collaborative effort benefitted the guide dogs, the airport and TSA and will go a long way to ensuring that the dogs and their eventual owners will have a smooth checkpoint experience in the future.
Similar TSA checkpoint orientations have taken place for service dogs at other airports including Greater Binghamton Airport, Elmira Corning Regional Airport, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Westchester County Airport, Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport and Long Island MacArthur Airport, among others.