Press Release Article


Date: Apr 11, 2002
Press Release Number: 37-2002

Media Wishing to Cover the Event Should Come to Terminal A
At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 13

Port Authority personnel at Newark International Airport are taking part in a training program for seeing-eye dogs on Saturday, April 13, to help 50 cuddly puppies become accustomed to airport sights, sounds and smells.

Newark Airport staff will take the student guide dogs on a tour of Terminal A, and Port Authority police will familiarize them with emergency equipment and vehicles.

“This specialized training pays big dividends by making air travel more accessible to the visually challenged,” said Susan M. Baer, General Manager of Newark Airport. “This is the eighth consecutive year that the Port Authority has had the privilege of hosting this familiarization program to help train these dogs at our facilities,” said Ms. Baer. “Any program that helps more people enjoy the benefits of air travel is truly worthy of our support.”

United Airlines will take the puppies onto a plane and on a tour of the Terminal A baggage claim areas. Such outings like this are part of a guide dog training program created by The Seeing Eye, Inc., a philanthropic organization that helps visually impaired adults achieve mobility through the use of guide dogs. The puppies are first placed with volunteer families from New Jersey 4-H Clubs. These families teach obedience and expose them to all of the stimuli and distractions found in the world in which they will work. After about 16 months with volunteer families, the dogs begin a five-month formal training course that prepares them for life as full-fledged guide dogs. Following the training, the dogs are assigned to a visually impaired person.

“The more experiences we can give these dogs, the less likely they are to become frightened by the unfamiliar,” said Janet Keeler, the Essex County Seeing Eye leader who organizes these excursions. “That\'s why we are grateful to the Port Authority for making this tour possible.”

The families involved in training the guide dogs are all New Jersey residents. At Newark Airport on Saturday, Port Authority K-9 explosives detection dogs Bam-Bam, Boomer and Jake will treat the families who have helped train the dogs to a demonstration of their bomb-sniffing skills.

The 4-H club is an organization that sponsors educational activities geared toward helping youngsters become responsible adults. The club has been working with The Seeing Eye, Inc., since 1942 to raise and prepare puppies for further training.

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