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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

Des Moines airport gets OK for outdoor service dog bathroom

Nov 28, 2016

DES MOINES (AP) — Officials have used some outside-the-terminal thinking to avoid having to build an estimated $100,000 indoor service dog bathroom at the Des Moines International Airport.

Airport officials had revealed earlier this year that a “service animal relief area” would be built in a boarding area to comply with an update of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which affected most airports with more than 10,000 passengers a year.

But the airport has found an alternative — a grass area just outside the terminal, the Des Moines Register reported.

By getting a service animal organization to endorse the plan, the airport got a pass from the Federal Aviation Administration on building an indoor facility.

Airport board members had been unhappy about the indoor option, noting that the artificial turf-covered room would not only have been expensive, but also would have required the removal of about 10 seats.

The airport spent only about $4,000 to build the grassy area, complete with a fake fire hydrant, outside the terminal.

Paws & Effect, a Des Moines-based nonprofit that pairs service dogs with veterans and disabled children, announced Tuesday it supported the Des Moines airport’s plan for an outdoor relief area. Executive Director Nicole Shumate said service dogs are trained to go six to eight hours between bathroom breaks, so owners should have plenty of time to take their dogs outside the terminal.

“I think it is perfectly reasonable with the size, with the traffic, with the number of passengers we have in Des Moines,” Shumate said.

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