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) Monday night so that they would be more familiar with the checkpoint screening process when they do need to catch a flight.
TSA officials screened about a dozen 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 group of 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.
The checkpoint orientation session will result in a smoother checkpoint experience when the puppies graduate into certified guide dogs and return to take a flight. The familiarization exercise enables the canines and their trainers to 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 TSA procedures for screening service animals to TSA officers who were working at the checkpoint during the orientation session.
This marked the seventh 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, Elmira Corning Regional Airport, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Westchester County Airport and Long Island MacArthur Airport.
“We so appreciate the support of the Greater Rochester International Airport and TSA,” said Puppy Program Manager Kerry Lemerise. “They’re providing the puppy raisers of our future guide dogs a tremendous training opportunity.”
“The orientation session was a win-win-win,” said TSA’s Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director for Rochester James Chapman. “The collaborative effort benefitted the guide dogs, the airport and TSA.”