November 17, 2016
Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter
A new addition to the Jacksonville International Airport is taking the stress out of traveling with a pet. An animal relief area is now open after the security checkpoint.
Walking through the airport, travelers will notice plenty of restrooms for humans, but where do the pups go?
"I, personally, when traveling with a pet, have had to use the bathroom and put down a pad for them to go on,” said Laura Zellner, assistant area coordinator for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
“People will turn up their noses at that and say 'Eww,' and I would turn around and say, 'Would you rather step in it?'" said Thresa Shaver, a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
JAX introduced its new Animal Relief Area on Thursday.
Even Southpaw from the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp was there for the event.
New federal regulations require an animal relief area after the TSA checkpoint, a convenience that Zellner said is necessary.
"You come in advance to get through security, and then you realize the dog needs to be relieved,” Zellner said. “So it's like, 'Do I have time?' and you zoom out and beg the officer to get back through security."
The room includes an artificial K-9 turf product that drains. Beneath the turf, the floor slopes to a sanitary sewer drain with a flushing system that cleans the sub-floor every 45 minutes.
"Even though we might have spent a little more on it because of that, it'll save us dollars in maintenance costs in the long haul,” said Steve Grossman, Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO.
JAX footed the $250,000 cost for the room. It also has its own ventilation system to keep the area odor-free. The design looks like a front porch with bench seating and includes a sink and bag dispensers.
And there's a view.
"You come in, we're nice and relaxed, puppy's nice and relaxed, so when you get on the plane they're relaxed,” Zellner said.
The pet relief area is open to all traveling pets and their owners, including service animals, free of charge.