Future guide dogs get training at Newark Airport

Posted: Updated:
NEWARK -

Dozens of dogs are being trained to help the blind and visually impaired at Newark Liberty International Airport.

About 80 German shepherds, golden retrievers and labradors learned to navigate their way through the airport with the help of an organization called Seeing Eye.

"It really allows them to come into an environment, like a public environment like an airport, where they get to see the sights and the sounds and the smells, so when they come here as a seeing eye dog, it's not unfamiliar to them," says Senior Program Manager at Port Authority Rich Schnurr.

The canines will learn how to make it through security checkpoints, to the gates and onto planes. The event is part of a 25-year tradition to prepare the dogs for their future roles as Seeing Eye dogs.

Jill Jaycox, of the Seeing Eye organization, says this is an "exposure outing" for the puppies.

"They get exposure to environments and experiences that they're gonna encounter as guides for a blind person," Jaycox said.

Seeing Eye of Morristown has its own breeding program. Once a puppy is a few months old, it is placed with a volunteer family for initial training.

The training takes a total of four months for the dogs to complete after being placed with a volunteer family.

Jaycox said more than 100 puppies were trained last week.

The TSA, Port Authority, United Airlines and Seeing Eye all partnered to facilitate the training at the airport.

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