Calgarians at Anderson LRT Station were greeted with a bus full of puppies before their Wednesday morning commute.
Calgary Transit partnered with the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) to offer riders an opportunity to snuggle with puppies on a bus parked at the LRT station from about 7 to 9 a.m.
Stephen Tauro, communications and information lead for Calgary Transit, said reaction to the Puppy Bus was great, creating lots of smiles on people's faces.
"Who doesn't love puppies, right?" he said.
The Puppy Bus was a new idea Calgary Transit came up with this year, said Tauro.
It's one way the city is trying to draw riders back to transit as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a decrease in ridership.
"Like any great city, a transit system is the backbone," Tauro said. "It creates a lot of excitement and a lot of movement into the downtown, you know, really drawing people to businesses."
Nicole Janke, who works in fundraising and resource development at AARCS, said the Puppy Bus was a big stress reliever for Calgarians getting back in the habit of commuting to work.
"Going back to work for a lot of people … is a huge change in their routine," Janke said. "Even just being around people again and sort of normal day-to-day stuff is a big stressor. So this is a great relief for people."
Taking the stress away
Sisters Kinnari and Maayari Shenoy greatly enjoyed cuddling with puppies on Wednesday.
"It was quite awesome," Kinnari said.
"Puppies are cute and they [take] all the stress away."
Maayari said the puppies were "playful and soft."
"I wanted to see them because we don't have a dog at home. My dad and my sister and me want one, but it's all about my mom. She says no," said Maayari.
Attending the Puppy Bus did not convince the girls' mother to get them a puppy, Maayari said.
Raising awareness for pets in need of homes
Janke said the Puppy Bus was a good way for Calgarians to learn about their local animal shelter and its work.
According to Janke, AARCS's Calgary shelter has been seeing some surrenders lately due to various circumstances of owners, such as financial constraints or moving houses.
"We're just hoping that every [pet] will soon find their forever homes," said Janke.
Calgarians looking to adopt or foster a pet in need of a home can visit the AARCS website.