Dog owners traveling
through Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s McNamara Terminal no longer have to worry about missing a connecting flight because Binky the Bichon Frise is, with that unmistakable sense of urgency, yanking you toward the exit, through security, so that she can do her business as she's been trained en plein air
Earlier this week, a rather tricked-out indoor canine lavatory, complete with a $75,000 price tag, was unveiled in the sprawling, 121-gate terminal used exclusively by Delta and the airline’s SkyTeam partners. While small dogs traveling in cabin pet carriers can use the facilities if nature happens to call in between connecting flights, the facility was specifically designed with service dogs and their owners in mind, hence its name, the Service Dog Relief Area.
And as far as airport dog johns go, this one truly boasts all the comforts
the backyard. The enclosed area sports two petite patches of grass — one with artificial turf, one with the real deal. Each canine comfort station — "porch potties," if you will — comes complete with its own miniature faux fire hydrant (nice touch) and a sprinkler system that can be activated with dog-friendly, wall-mounted "flush" buttons. According to the Detroit Free Press
, when the sprinklers are activated, liquid waste is washed away into drains that connect “to the same sanitation system as the humans’ restrooms.” Number twos, unfortunately, must be retrieved and disposed of by hand.
A sink for hand washing and the refilling of water bottles round out the amenities.
Detroit Metro certainly isn't alone as an airport that offers pooches somewhere to piddle with dignity. Most major American airports — Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago O' Hare, Phoenix, New York Kennedy, Washington Dulles, etc. — have designated pet pit stops (as required by law) available to travelers. However, Detroit Metro joins an elite few as an airport that offers enclosed indoor facilities for jet-setting dogs (San Diego International opened a similar in-terminal pet relief area last year).
Two service dogs, Cricket the golden retriever and Jello the black Lab, were on hand at an official "ribbon-biting" ceremony to help demonstrate (read: christen) the new facility located near gate A34. “To have her inside is a blessing for us,” explains Jello’s owner Marguerite Maddox, noting that having somewhere for her trusty companion to "go" without having to exit the terminal and re-enter security will save her 30 minutes.
The Arconcepts Inc.-designed restroom, dubbed “Central Bark” by airport workers, was opened as a joint effort between Delta Air Lines and Detroit Metropolitan Airport with input from Michigan-based advocacy group PAWS with a Cause
. “You’ve gone from backpacking to staying at the Ritz Carlton,” says Delta facilities manager John Garbacik of Detroit Metro's newest addition.
Related stories on MNN: