LAX celebrates fifth anniversary of Pets Unstressing Passengers program ·

LAX celebrates fifth anniversary of Pets Unstressing Passengers program

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 on Wednesday 23 May. 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.”

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.

“For the last five years, the therapy dogs and their handlers have brought a tremendous amount of joy and relief to travellers during what is a stressful time for many,” said Keith Wilschetz, Deputy Executive Director of Operations and Emergency Management, LAWA, who also served as the Master of Ceremonies of today’s event. “At LAX, we are thrilled that the PUPs program continues to grow and thrive, and we look forward to many years to come.”

During the celebration, PUPs Program Director Heidi Huebner also introduced the pets and their handlers to the attendees and media present.  Huebner has led the program since its inception and has seen how many lives the volunteers and their pets have affected in a positive manner.  “We don’t ever know why someone is travelling,” said Huebner.  “It could be for a happy reason or for sad reasons, but to be there to comfort them with the therapy dogs is life-changing.”

The Pets Unstressing Passengers is part of a frontline team of volunteers that includes 225 Volunteer Information Professionals, the newly formed LAXceeders Student Volunteer Program and 150 Guest Experience members.

The celebration was also streamed live on LAX’s Facebook page.  You can find a link to the live stream of the event here.

To obtain more information about the PUPs program or to download an application, please visit:

About Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

LAX is the fifth busiest airport in the world, second in the United States, and was named Skytrax’s 2017 Top 10 Most Improved Airports. LAX served more than 84.56 million passengers in 2017. LAX offers 737 daily nonstop flights to 100 cities in the U.S. and 1,386 weekly nonstop flights to 88 cities in 44 countries on 73 commercial air carriers. LAX ranks 14th in the world and fifth in the U.S. in air cargo tonnage processed, with more than 2.2 million tons of air cargo valued at over USD $101.4 billion. LAX handled 697,138 operations (landings and take-offs) in 2016. 

An economic study based on 2014 operations reported LAX generated 620,600 jobs in Southern California with labour income of USD $37.3 billion and economic output (business revenues) of more than USD $126.6 billion. This activity added USD $6.2 billion to local and state revenues and USD $8.7 billion in federal tax revenues. The study also reported that LAX’s ongoing capital-improvement program creates an additional 121,640 annual jobs with labour income of USD $7.6 billion and economic output of USD $20.3 billion, USD $966 million in state and local taxes, and USD $1.6 billion in federal tax revenues.  

LAX is also the second most popular airport in the world to appear on Instagram according to LAX is part of a system of two Southern California airports – along with Van Nuys general aviation – that are owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles that receives no funding from the City’s general fund. 

For more information about LAX, please visit or follow on Twitter @flyLAXAirport, on Facebook at ionalAirport, and on YouTube at  

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