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TSA agents in Ithaca help train service dogs for flights with blind companions

Security agents teamed up with volunteers from Guiding Eyes for the Blind

ITHACA (WSYR-TV) - Volunteer trainers with Guiding Eyes for the Blind were invited to the airport in Ithaca on Monday night, after flights wrapped up, to work with TSA agents.

The goal is to get the service animals ready for blind or visually impaired owners who need to book a flight.

"Airports are, they are very busy and there's a lot of people and movement and stuff going on and weird noises, like the metal detectors," explains trainer Shannon Reddy. "The dogs need to be calm enough to handle that."

The partnership with the TSA has a few benefits.

The dogs get more comfortable in an airport setting, screening agents brush up on protocol for passengers with service animals, and the entire process runs more smoothly for the airport and other travelers.

"Some are a little more well mannered than others and they can be a handful at times. But give them good direction, good instructions, and it's usually not a problem there," says TSA Agent Glenn Feller.

While other airports around the region had hosted similar programs, this was the first time the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport opened their checkpoint to service pups-in-training.

Many volunteer trainers, like Reddy, are local college students learning a powerful lesson outside the classroom...the value of helping a blind neighbor spread their wings.

"It gives that person the independence to go and travel places and know their dog is capable of handling that situation," Reddy says.


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