At minimum, airports should have pet relief areas within terminals for traveling pets and service animals. We recommend more locations in both concourses and terminals pre- and post-security to better accommodate travelers and avoid accidents.
Here’s what’s needed for a successful pet relief area.
Basic Amenities and Resources
Be sure your relief area includes:
- Clear communication that the relief area is for both pets and service animals.
- Easy access to the relief area and its amenities, including for pet parents using assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers or canes.
- Pet-friendly turf, grass or another surface that’s gentle on paws in all types of weather.
- Non-slip, easily cleaned surface around the relief area.
- A waste bag dispenser with a trash receptacle attached or nearby, both of which are regularly serviced.
- Adequate lighting for safe use by people and pets.
- Effective drainage and a spray or sprinkler system that ensures the pet relief area is properly cleaned and helps to minimizes odors.
- Clear rules that remind pet owners of their responsibilities when using the space.
- Sanitizing or hand-washing options for pet parent hygiene. Also consider a leash hook or carrier space to safely free up pet parents’ hands for hand washing.
- A readily visible resource number or QR code for questions or issues.
- Documented cleaning and maintenance standard operating procedures and a regular schedule for area maintenance, such as spraying down the surface, removing trash and refilling waste bags.
- Friendly signage that encourages responsible practices like keeping dogs on leash and/or cleaning up after them.
- If indoors, ensure adequate ventilation to maximize air flow and minimize odors.
- If outdoors, ensure adequate separation from vehicular traffic areas, at minimum allowing a few feet between the relief area and a parking lot or street.
If you have the space and budget, these features will make your relief area even more welcoming:
- A pet-friendly water fountain with a refillable water bottle option for humans supports healthy hydration for all.
- A pheromone-based prop, such as a scented doggy fire hydrant, can encourage dogs to complete their business in the area.
- Consider a vacant/occupied mechanism on indoor relief area doors to accommodate a single pet at a time – some pets may be more comfortable (and quicker) if alone.
- If outdoors, include an awning or shade that protects users from heat and inclement weather to make it an even better experience.
- If you have a larger space, include a play area as well, for example with agility equipment and a bench for waiting pet parents.
- If your relief area is off-leash, make sure it is fully fenced in and includes double-containment gates so pet parents can enter safely before removing their dog’s leash.
Want more tips? Check out the full Pet-Friendly Airport Toolkit for how-to’s and best practices to help plan pet-friendly policies, amenities and programming for airports.