SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — There’s a way that passengers at the Sacramento International Airport can relieve the stress of traveling.
According to a news release, the airport brought back its BARC team, which involves dogs you can pet on your way to your flight. The program was halted due to the pandemic, and it returned after an 18-month hiatus.
The BARC team officially returned on July 7, according to the airport.
BARC is an acronym for Boarding Area Relaxation Corps, and the dogs have “Pet Me” vests, as they greet passengers after they go through security.
“As traveling can be stressful for some people — from fear of flying to worrying about delays or cancellations — these dogs provide a furry dose of relief,” the airport said in a release.
The dogs on the BARC team include a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Sophie, a Great Pyrenees named Logan, and Colbert, a 14-year-old black Lab, who is “nearing retirement,” according to the release.
Each dog has a handler, who is part of the Lend A Heart Animals Assisted Therapy organization, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that provides animal-assisted therapy in the region. The nonprofit also visits hospitals, nursing homes and libraries.
“A little girl was completely terrified and wouldn’t stop crying until she laid down with Sophie,” said Rose Margolis, Sophie’s handler. “She was so much more relaxed, and we love being able to see that.”
“When he lays down, the little ones like to lay on him,” said Jennifer Baer-Riedhard, Logan’s handler. “He is so happy to be here with all the people. I’m so glad we’re back.”
Passengers can also stop for photos with the dogs before they head off to their gate. Jenniene Cheng, Colbert’s handler, said the dogs help create a sense of security for the airport’s guests.
“People stop to pet the dogs and then start up conversations and share stories about their dogs,” Cheng said in the release. “It’s a great way to put people at ease.”
The BARC program has been at the SMF since 2015 and there are 27 dogs in Terminals A and B, according to the airport.
“The BARC teams make the airport experience less stressful and more fun,” Sacramento County Director of Airports Cindy Nichol said in the release. “Travel can be a hectic experience and with these friendly faces around, passengers can’t help, but stop, take a breath and relax before continuing their journey.”