San Francisco International Airport’s Adorable Team Of Therapy Animals

San Francisco International Airport’s Adorable Team Of Therapy Animals

We all know that airports can be stressful places, but one surefire way to bring a smile to an anxious passenger’s face is to have them greeted by a cute furry friend. And that is exactly what a team of volunteers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is doing with the Wag Brigade.

Since 2013, the Wag Brigade has been bringing trained therapy animals into the terminal, with the aim of making the passenger experience more pleasant and easing the stress of air travel. The initiative is organized by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and following a short break during the pandemic, the Wag Brigade returned to work in October 2021.


Located on the departures level of Terminal 3, the Wag Brigade is currently made up of a team of 22 dogs, cats, a rabbit, and even a pig. Accompanied by volunteers and their handlers, the animals patrol the terminal wearing “Pet me!” vests, and will often make a beeline for gates with delayed flights, where stress levels tend to be at their highest.

Whether they are traveling for business or personal reasons, passengers often experience a wide range of emotions at the airport, and Wag Brigade members are specially trained to respond to different emotions. The therapy animals are certified through the SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program.

San Francisco International Airport

Photo: Daily Travel Photo | Shutterstock

Meet the Wag Brigade

Here are just a few of the furry (and not-so-furry) friends who make up the Wag Brigade at San Francisco International Airport:

Bombay – an English Chocolate Labrador, born in December 2015. According to his owners, he likes sleeping, swimming, partying with other dogs, meeting new people at airports, and sniffing people’s luggage!

George Morkie – an avid traveler, George flies around 50,000 miles per year! He loves showing passengers around his second home – San Francisco International Airport.

LiLou – the Wag Brigade’s first certified pig, and a glamorous one at that, with her red painted nails. She entertains passengers with her tricks and even plays a toy piano.

The Wag Brigade has proved immensely popular, attracting crowds of admirers wherever they go in the terminal. For the volunteers, it’s all about sharing a bit of joy and making people smile. One of the Wag Brigade trainers, Jennifer Kazarian, reflected on the importance of the initiative, saying,

“We launched as a pilot program in late 2013 with six dogs to gauge the reaction from passengers. The engagement was just amazing. So from then on we were like okay – send more dogs! We often hear people say things like, ‘I just got back from a two-week vacation and this is the best part of my trip.’”

Flying with an emotional support animal

In the US, airlines are required by law to carry assistance animals free of charge, but there is no obligation for them to accept emotional support animals. In fact, most major US carriers no longer allow emotional support animals onboard, including American Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines.

American Airlines aircraft wing view
Photo: GagliardiPhotography | Shutterstock

Airlines elsewhere in the world, including Air France, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines, tend to be more accepting of emotional support animals, albeit with certain restrictions, such as the size and weight of the animal.

Have you been to see the Wag Brigade at San Francisco International Airport? How did you find the experience? Do you fly with an emotional support animal? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: San Francisco International Airport

  • GettyImages-1175364447

    Photo: Getty Images

    San Francisco International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    United States

    Ivar C. Satero

    Passenger Count :
    16,427,801 (2020)

    Runways :
    10L/28R – 3,618m (11,870ft) |10R/28L – 3,469m (11,381ft) |1R/19L – 2,637m (8,650ft) |1L/19R – 2,332m (7,650ft)

    Harvey Milk Terminal 1 |Terminal 2 |Terminal 3 |International Terminal