[nagdu] More airports create areas for pets to take care of business
gingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 1 17:50:53 UTC 2010
More airports create areas for pets to take care of business
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has an off-leash
dog park featuring flowers, benches and bags for dog waste.
By Roger Yu, USA TODAY
Dogs need to go, too. So airports are adding doggie restrooms.
Airports say "pet relief areas" enhance customer service. But
they're also being nudged by a federal rule that orders airlines
to work with airports to install facilities for travelers who
have service dogs.
Among airports with new dog bathrooms: Atlanta, San Francisco,
Los Angeles, Washington Dulles, Washington National, Chicago
O'Hare and Phoenix.
The facilities are typically outside, within walking distance of
the terminal. The federal rule requires they be kept clean, free
of odor, contain a gravel or sand surface and have adequate
drainage. Some airports have added synthetic grass, fire hydrants
"Many of our members travel," says Melanie Brunson, executive
director of the American Council of the Blind, which pushed for
the rule. "Increasingly, you don't get much time between flights.
You don't have a whole lot of time to take care of your dog's
About 2 million pets and other animals fly each year in the U.S.,
according to the Transportation Department. But convenient relief
areas weren't required until the department published changes
last year to the Air Carrier Access Act, which spells out travel
rights for people who have physical disabilities.
"If there was one (before)," she says, "it was in the boondocks,
and (travelers) didn't have much time to get there."
Neva Fairchild of Carrollton, Texas, who has a service dog and is
an American Foundation for the Blind employee, says it can be
embarrassing for owners of dogs that relieve themselves at an
"I can understand if people are offended by dogs relieving
themselves at a pole 20 feet from the airport," she says. "But
when the dog has to go, it has to go."
Fairchild says she'd like to see more relief inside security
zones at airports to avoid clearing security-screening
checkpoints again for connecting flights.
Washington Dulles is one of the few airports with indoor
facilities within its security zone, in addition to three relief
areas outside. Engineers designed them after studying other dog
parks. They contain ventilation and wall-mounted
water-distribution systems for cleaning, Dulles spokeswoman
Courtney Mickalonis says.
Before assigning a new pet area, Atlanta had "maintenance issues"
with travelers who let their dogs use landscaped areas without
cleaning up, says Gary Summerlin, an engineer at the world's
busiest airport, where about 6,000 animals are flown annually in
cargo. But pet owners using the "formal" area have been more
responsible, he says.
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