HIA Hosts Susquehanna Service Dogs in Training and Allegiant for Event

On Saturday, September 9, 2019, Harrisburg International Airport and Allegiant hosted over 55 dogs from Susquehanna Service Dogs for a training event. The familiarization event is an annual outing for Susquehanna Service Dogs, but with partnership from Allegiant, is expanded to include on-board aircraft training.

Service dogs and raisers getting their boarding passes from the Allegiant Team (photo: Lauren Altheah Photography)

The first part of the training day included riding the long term shuttle to the terminal, followed by practicing stairs and riding elevators on the non-secure side of the airport. Familiarity with different types and styles of stairs and elevators are very important to the training of a service dog.

(photos: Lauren Altheah Photography)

The next step of the event took the teams to the TSA Checkpoint where each dog went through a TSA pat-down and through a metal detector. This allowed the dogs a new experience that may help them down the road when they are placed with a partner.

Service dogs and raisers going through TSA Checkpoint (photo: Inky Byers Photography)

Once through the TSA Checkpoint, the pups and their raisers had time to explore the secure side of the airport. They took this opportunity to practice stay, under, and a variety of other commands as they waited their turn to board their Allegiant plane.

After some exploring, the teams headed to board the plane. The teams were able to travel in areas they have not had the opportunity to explore and hear noises they have not been exposed to . Once on the plane, the fantastic Allegiant Crew took to their task of exposing the dogs to all they could including overhead announcements, opening and closing of overhead bins, and safety demonstrations. The pups and their raisers learned about how a service dog only has the space at the feet of their raisers to sit or lay down. This was probably the most difficult task of the day.

(photo: Lauren Altheah Photography)

The day ended with a team effort from the Airport, Allegiant, and Susquehanna Service Dogs taking to the plane with an army of lint rollers and vacuums to ensure the dog hair was removed from the front of the plane where the dogs were training. The team ensured half of the plane was not accessed by dogs in case anyone was traveling that had a dog allergy.

Additionally, almost 2 years ago, Allegiant Air made a donation to name a puppy through Susquehanna Service Dogs, who is appropriately named: SSD Allegiant. SSD Allegiant is now in Advanced Training with Susquehanna Service Dogs and is working with trainers all week long getting him ready for a future placement with a partner. Allegiant Air also has a partnership with Susquehanna Service Dogs that allows them to transfer puppies (alongside a volunteer) between other ADI-accredited service dog programs that are nearby to an Allegiant route at no cost to the organization.

(photo: Lauren Altheah Photography)

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