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Flying Is Terrible Now, but These Mini Horses at the Airport Can Help

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

Mini therapy horses are making flying a little more bearable

The days of comfortable, glamorous air travel are long gone, and lately, you’re lucky to get off a flight without witnessing or being in a fight, so it’s no wonder so many of us dread flying. But some airports are trying to make the experience at least a little better with the help of adorable therapy animals.

As NPR reported, two miniature therapy horses — Denver and Ruby — visit the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport twice a month, getting passengers in the ticketing area. And they’re not the only ones. More than 30 airports in the U.S. have in-house therapy dogs, and San Francisco even has a therapy pig.

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Like any therapy animals, the ones in airports undergo hundreds of hours of training that gets them acclimated to dealing with stressed people and their luggage.

Mineta San José International Airport was one of the first to go the cute-animals-to-reduce-travel-stress route, when an interfaith chaplain brought her therapy dog to the airport after 9/11 to help calm down the visibly anxious passengers. The airport now has several therapy dogs on staff — and even one therapy cat.

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Back in Cincinnati, Lisa Moad, the owner of the mini therapy horses, told NPR that passengers love seeing the horses, saying, "that it made them feel much better, kind of calmed down, took a deep breath. A lot of them thank us for being there at that time because they needed that little bit of support before they get on the plane."

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These are busy horses. In addition to the airport, they also have gigs at local nursing homes and schools. Given their popularity, Moad is looking into expanding her therapeutic menagerie to include donkeys.

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