LAX PUPs Program
Puppy Profile: Chance
Los Angeles World Airports celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) Program at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the courtyard of the Theme Building. During the celebration, nearly 40 therapy dogs from the program, and their handlers, walked the grass carpet, took photos and were interviewed about their participation in PUPs.
“PUPs is an extraordinary program that makes LAX stand out among other international and domestic airports," said Val Velasco, Commission Vice President, Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. "It adds a friendly touch to the airport and lets our guests know that we care about their comfort levels and well-being when they walk through the terminals.”
“Our PUPs are some of LAX’s best ambassadors, because they’re always ready to provide friendliness in whatever terminal you find them” said Heidi Huebner, LAX PUPs Program Director.
In 2013, the PUPs program began with 20 therapy dogs. There are now close to 90 dogs in the program. The therapy dogs and volunteers roam the departures levels in the gate areas of each terminal and visit guests who are waiting on flights. The teams also provide information to guests and answer questions they may have. On average, each team of PUPs volunteers can interact with between 3500 and 7000 guests at LAX each year. Last year alone, the PUPs volunteers logged more than 4,000 hours of service at the airport. Over the last five years, the LAX PUPs team has helped 56 airports nationwide start similar programs.
PUPs Profile on Chance as told by his human and LAX Pups Program Director, Heidi Huebner.
I lost my 17-year-old therapy dog Chowsie, who was the first PUP who tested the waters at LAX before we launched in 2013. My best friend was at a shelter pulling a dog Chase, now Chance, who was due to be euthanized the week that Chowsie passed away. She called me and said, “I have your new dog.” He was perfect in every way, except he was afraid to get in the car. He would lay flat on the ground and wet himself when we approached the car. Why was he afraid? Then it clicked, he thought he was being taken back to the shelter. After working with him and gaining his trust in having found his forever loving home, he decided the car was awesome, because it meant we were going to fun places and to work. Chance loves running on the beach with his sister dog, Sadie (a 10-year-old Rottie). They are best friends. He loves saying hi to all the other dogs in the neighborhood when we go for walks. He was born to be a therapy dog. His temperament and warm eyes melt away stress and negative feelings. He often rolls over for belly rubs. When I tell him he is going to work, he runs to the front door and sits tall, proudly waiting for the leash to go on and literally leaps into the car. I believe in fate that Chance was put on this earth to do exactly what he is doing. There are so many dogs in the shelter systems looking for a job. I’m blessed that my job is his job too.