Port Authority to Help Seeing Eye Dogs in Training Acclimate to Airport Sights, Sounds and Smells
More than 150 dogs will have their day at Newark Liberty International Airport as Port Authority personnel take part in a training program for Seeing Eye dogs on Saturday, March 27, and Saturday, April 3. Both training days will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Terminal A arrivals area.
On each Saturday, the airport will host about 75 puppies and the New Jersey families who volunteer to raise them. Airport staff will take the student guide dogs on a tour of Terminal A, and United Airlines will escort the puppies onto a plane and to its baggage claim areas. Port Authority police will familiarize them with emergency equipment and vehicles, and treat the families who have helped to train the dogs to a demonstration of their
K-9 unit’s bomb-sniffing skills. This is the 10th consecutive year that the Port Authority has hosted this familiarization program to help train these dogs at its facilities.
Susan M. Baer, General Manager of Newark Airport, said, “This specialized training is part of the Port Authority’s efforts to keep our airports accessible to all, including those who are visually challenged. We are proud to be part of a program that helps more people enjoy the benefits of air travel.”
Janet Keeler of Livingston, N.J., the leader of the Essex County Eyes of Hope Seeing Eye Puppy Club and the organizer of the excursions, said, “We are grateful to the Port Authority for making this tour possible. Every new experience a puppy can have makes it more prepared for its life as a Seeing Eye dog.”
These outings 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 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.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.