Press Release Article


PUPPIES PREPARE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AT NEWARK LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Date: Mar 31, 2017
Press Release Number: 52-2017

More than 180 adorable puppies to become future guides in assisting and directing visually impaired passengers through an airport

Nearly 200 eager puppies with a public-service purpose will be on the airfield at Newark Liberty International Airport the next two Saturdays, acclimating to a busy and noisy environment to help them calmly handle their future roles — as seeing eye dogs.

Personnel from the Port Authority, U.S. Transportation Security Administration and United Airlines will team with volunteers in a Seeing Eye puppy program starting at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow and Saturday, April 8 and take the loveable canines through Terminal C’s baggage areas, checkpoints and gates, onto AirTrain Newark and planes, as well as the airfield so that one day they can help guide visually impaired travelers through this and other airports. Created by The Seeing Eye, a philanthropic organization that helps people who are blind and visually impaired achieve mobility through the use of guide dogs, the training program will host more than 180 puppies in an annual tradition that dates back nearly a quarter century at Newark Liberty.

About 90 puppies will visit each Saturday, as well as the New Jersey and Pennsylvania families who volunteer to raise them. Airport staff will take the future guide dogs on a tour of Terminal C, while United Airlines will escort them onto a plane and to its baggage claim areas. Port Authority police will familiarize them with emergency equipment and vehicles, and treat the families helping to train the dogs to a demonstration of their K-9 unit’s bomb-sniffing skills.

"The Port Authority is proud to host this valuable program," said Newark Liberty Interim Deputy General Manager Frank Radics. "Since Newark Liberty’s involvement began 23 years ago, this program has trained nearly 3,500 dogs to assist visually impaired passengers navigate busy airports like ours, making air travel a little easier."

"Training and achieving real-life experience is essential for Seeing Eye puppies. I am impressed with the courtesy shown by the Newark Liberty Airport staff and the pride they take in being part of this important process," said Seeing Eye Director of Canine Development Peggy Gibbon. "These dogs learn to traverse through security checkpoints, become acclimated to the noises of a bustling airport and experience the busy airport environment so none of these experiences bother them when they encounter them as fully trained Seeing Eye dogs."

"United has welcomed The Seeing Eye organization to Newark for more than a decade," said Rick Hoefling, United’s vice president of Newark Liberty International Airport. "We are committed to ensuring all of our customers, regardless of need, can easily access the airport from check-in to boarding and we we’re glad to be a part of the airport familiarization process for the Seeing Eye puppies."

"We know that the checkpoint familiarization portion of this event will result in a smoother checkpoint experience when these puppies graduate into certified guide dogs and return to take a flight," said Tom Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. "This opportunity helps ensure that the canines will know what to expect when the dogs, and the people they are trained to guide, return with plans to take a flight. The orientation session also serves as a good review and reinforcement of our procedures for screening service animals for our officers who work at the checkpoint."

The dogs are placed initially with volunteer families from New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New York. These families teach house manners, basic obedience and expose them to all of the stimuli and distractions found in the world in which they will work. After about 14 to 16 months with volunteer families, the dogs begin a four-month formal training program that prepares them for life as full-fledged guide dogs. Following the training, the dogs are assigned to a person who is blind or visually impaired.

About The Seeing Eye

Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye provides specially bred and trained dogs to guide people who are blind. Seeing Eye® dog users experience greatly enhanced mobility and independence, allowing them to retain their active lifestyles despite blindness. The Seeing Eye is a 501(c)3 non-profit supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts. The Seeing Eye is a trademarked name and can only be used to describe the dogs bred and trained at the school’s facilities in Morristown, N.J. If you would like more information on The Seeing Eye, please visit the website at www.SeeingEye.org, call (973) 539-4425, or email info@seeingeye.org.

Contact:
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
212-435-7777

The Seeing Eye
973-775-8350

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit http://www.panynj.gov.


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