BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Feelings of stress or anxiety might be overwhelming at times, but some volunteers in our Western New York community are looking to take all of that away.

If you’ve been to the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on a Tuesday or Thursday, chances are you’ve seen two golden retrievers known as Jake and Maya roaming through the terminals, with dog-dads Al and Michael not far behind them. The four-legged friends and their owners take their daily walks through baggage claim, doing what they do best.

“They are here basically to destress people. They go up to the passengers, they go up to the staff,” explained SPCA Service Erie County Paws for Love Coordinator Debbie Braun.

It’s not uncommon for golden retrievers to be therapy dogs. Pamela Rose with Therapy Animals Western New York says any breed can qualify, but having a calm personality is the key.

Rose’s dog Sophie is a therapy dog and stops by the University at Buffalo to help students and staff unwind.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to see the students sit there just almost hypnotized. Getting such satisfaction, and you can see them visibly relaxing,” said Rose.

While on the outside, you might smile, internally, these pups do a lot of good for your health.

“Just petting an animal, there are studies that show it reduces your blood pressure, it makes your endorphins come out in your body, and it helps relax you,” said Braun.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Paws for Love had around 600 participants, but now they are down to about 200. The SPCA Serving Erie County says they are always looking for volunteers.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, help is available. Erie County’s Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day: 716-834-3131. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255. For more information, visit CrisisServices.org.

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Abby Fridmann is an anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in November 2020. See more of her work here.