Southeastern Guide Dogs trainers Marisa Gerlach, left, with “Chucker” and Caitlin O’Brien, right, with “Treasure” check out the new service dog/pet relief room at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon, July 29, 2016. Airports are required to provide these Service Animal Relief Areas in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The facility is located next to gate B2 at the airport. STAFF PHOTO / MIKE LANG
One restroom at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport went to the dogs on Friday.
Southeast Guide Dogs couldn’t be more thrilled.
Service animals and pets now have their own bathroom at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in the B terminal. The new lavatory is outfitted with a small Astroturf patch, a sink and clean up supplies, so that animals preparing to take flight can relieve themselves without having to go through the security checkpoint again.
For Caitlin O’Brien, a Southeast Guide Dog trainer and instructor, it’s almost as much of a relief for her as it is for the guide dogs she travels with.
“I know that it’s really challenging to find time to relieve your dog when you have to go out through security and find some grass outside and then having to go all the way back in,” O’Brien said.
Two of O’Brien’s dogs, Treasure and Chucker, sniffed out the new bathroom as part of a ribbon cutting on Friday.
The addition of an animal relief station is a move that several airports throughout the country are making following a U.S. Department of Transportation ruling last year. It’s an important addition, said Sarasota-Bradenton International CEO Fredrick “Rick” Piccolo, especially as more service animals appear on site and more airlines welcome pets in the aircraft cabin.
“I think it will get a decent amount of use, but it’s an amenity that’s more and more expected, and it’s an amenity that’s required by law,” Piccolo said.
The animal relief area was designed with input from Southeast Guide Dogs official and was constructed by the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport staff. Animal owners are asked to clean up after their pets, but the airport janitorial staff will monitor the facility’s cleanliness, Piccolo said.