ELMIRA, N.Y. – Future guide dogs had an opportunity to practice going through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport (ELM) today so that they would be more familiar with the checkpoint screening process when they do need to catch a flight.
TSA officials screened eight puppies and their trainers from the Southern Tier of New York’s Puppy Raisers for 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.
“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 TSA’s Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director James Chapman. “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 second time that Guiding Eyes dogs have been trained passing through the checkpoint at ELM. Similar TSA checkpoint orientations have taken place for service dogs at other New York airports including Greater Binghamton Airport, Greater Rochester International Airport, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Westchester County Airport, and Long Island MacArthur Airport.
“The orientation session was beneficial for everyone who participated,” Chapman said. “The collaborative effort benefitted the guide dogs, their trainers, the airport and TSA.”
Individuals traveling with service animals who have questions about the process can always contact TSA Cares, a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. You may reach TSA Cares at (855) 787-2222; email at TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov or Federal Relay: 711. The TSA Cares line is staffed weekdays from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. EDT and on weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. EDT. It is best to call 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.