Guide dogs get TSA checkpoint training in Rochester

Local Press Release
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Future guide dogs had an opportunity to practice going through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) this week so that they would be more familiar with the checkpoint screening process when they do need to catch a flight.

TSA officials screened 10 puppies and their trainers from the Monroe Puppy Raising Region of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, as they came through the checkpoint in an effort to acclimate the future guide dogs with an important piece of the airport experience. Another half dozen dogs explored other areas of the airport courtesy of airport officials, who offered the dogs the opportunity to sniff around the baggage pick-up area and explore near the check-in counters.

“We know that our checkpoint orientation session will result in a smoother checkpoint experience when these puppies graduate into certified guide dogs and return to take a flight,” said John McCaffrey, TSA’s Assistant Federal Security Director. “It was a familiarization exercise so the canines and their trainers 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 served as a good review and reinforcement of our procedures for screening service animals for our officers who were working at the checkpoint.”

This marked the first time that Guiding Eyes dogs have been trained passing through the checkpoint, although it was the sixth time the group has brought dogs to navigate through the ROC Airport terminal. Similar TSA checkpoint orientations have taken place for service dogs at other New York airports including Greater Binghamton Airport, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Westchester County Airport, and Long Island MacArthur Airport.

“We are always working to improve and enhance the travel experience for all who use the airport,” said Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County Executive. “Often times, travels are accompanied by service animals and we are proud to partner with Guiding Eyes for the Blind and TSA in order to help prepare future guide dogs and provide a comfortable, first-rate experience for everyone who flies through ROC.”

“The orientation session was a win-win-win,” McCaffrey said. “The collaborative effort benefitted the guide dogs, the airport and TSA.”