Humans are not the only ones in the airport who need a restroom between flights. That's why Delta Airlines and Detroit Metropolitan Airport today opened the hub's first relief area for service animals.
Nicknamed "Central Bark" by some airport staff, the area has two grassy sections called "porch potties," with a sprinkler system to wash away waste. It even has a fake fire hydrant.
It means passengers in transit will not have to take their service dogs outside to do their business.
Michael Conway, a spokesperson for the Wayne County Airport Authority, said the facility is on the central concourse of the McNamara Terminal, so travelers with service animals will not need to exit and re-submit to security screening.
Conway said the screening can be especially burdensome and time consuming for passengers with special needs.
"This is the right thing to do," said Conway. "But it also makes the airport more attractive to people who are traveling with service animals. And hopefully we'll get some more customers as a result of this."
Kelly Buckland, executive director of the National Council on Independent Living, praised the opening of the facility. "Having this relief area inside really is important for people who use service animals because having to go through security is really a bigger deal than I think most people realize," he said.
Buckland said screenings can involve mandatory pat downs for people in wheel chairs, removal of prosthetics, and temporary separation of travelers from their service animal.
The relief area was officially dedicated today with the help of service dogs from Michigan-based Paws with a Cause. One of the dogs did the honors at the "ribbon-biting" ceremony, going up to the ribbon upon command and running away with it.
Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom