Nature’s Call, Now Roaming at YVR

Airport Relief Areas Are Cutting Barriers for Travellers with Pets and Service Dogs

By Erik Ryken

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Planning an international trip with your dog can be daunting, especially considering the mazes and deserts that make up large airports. One of the difficulties faced by travelling dogs of any size is the lack of relief areas, usually relegated to an outdoor patch of grass near a parking garage.

In an effort to remove barriers for travellers with service animals some airports are creating relief areas in the post-security stage of their airports. 

Vancouver airport (YVR) added an indoor restroom to the post-security stage of its U.S. terminal in June this year, allowing service dogs and pets to have one less stressor in their trips abroad. The restroom features an artificial grass surface in a closed door facility with a stall – similar to a walk-in shower. This is key for dogs who are trained to never use a carpeted surface.

YVR Dog Relief Area
Image Credit: YVR

People with service dogs and pets will appreciate the improving quality of these facilities. In March 2013 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) introduced three outdoor “Pet relief zones” complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. While it’s a step forward to have clearly marked areas like this, the real effort has been started in the U.S., where a Department of Transportation ruling has mandated all air terminals serving more than 10,000 passengers daily be equipped with post-security pet relief areas by August 2016.

We’re looking forward to catching up on this progress, and seeing the experience of flying become much more accessible for dogs. For now, travellers will have to check resources like this map for U.S. facilities. In Canada, the Rick Hansen Foundation has made a mission to ensure Canada’s built environment is fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2050.