BUFFALO, NY - Good neighbors can come in all shapes and sizes, and this week's good neighbors have four legs.
They're the volunteers in the SPCA's Paws for Love program at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The anxiety of long lines, stressful security, and lost luggage, can easily go away with some doggy breath and wagging tails.
"It's very stressful to fly nowadays and the dogs are here to make it a little more rewarding experience," said Paws for Love coordinator Debbie Braun.
The NFTA and SPCA initiated the program at the Buffalo Airport in November 2013 and it's proven to be very popular.
"We started out with 20 dogs now we're up to over 30. When we started this program there were only five airports in the country that did it and we were the sixth. And now there are quite a few more but I think we're the second largest program in the country after LAX," said Braun.
Working dogs are first evaluated and approved. They are easy to spot at the airport wearing fluorescent lime green SPCA vests with their volunteer wearing a blue SPCA shirt.
The therapy dogs range from a 5 pound poodle to a 200 pound great dane. They don't just ease the tension for travelers, but for those working in the airport, too.
"Working in customer service is stressful, that's why it's great these guys being here for the employees as well," said Danielle McNichol, a customer service representative for Delta and Paws for Love volunteer with her golden retriever Sawyer.
Even SPCA Executive Director Barbara Carr volunteers.
"Charlie and I come out once a week and we meet people from all over who are so happy to have Charlie to just put hands on," Carr said. "I had no idea this would be something she was born to do. At 10 years of age we find out she is a fabulous therapy dog. When I put her vest on she goes insane."
Volunteer Allan Monaco brings his golden retriever, Jake, two hours a day twice a week.
"It's very rewarding. He loves people. He loves children," Monaco said. "A lot of people miss their dog so they see Jake and they give him an extra hug."
"It's just a wonderful service here at Buffalo- the City of Good Neighbors."
People who are interested and want to learn more about volunteering for the SPCA PFL program should visit the SPCA's website, YourSPCA.org or contact program coordinator Deborah Braun, at email@example.com or 681-0744.