New Roadside Comfort Pet program delivers peace of mind

Standing beside a broken down vehicle at the side of the road is a stressful situation. For the 980,000 members of the Alberta Motor Association (AMA), knowing someone has their back offers some peace of mind, but AMA is always striving to do even more to keep their members comfortable. AMA’s new Roadside Comfort Pet program adds a new level of reassurance to an already legendary roadside assistance service.

Starting April 1st, this innovative, first-of-its-kind towing program will pair up stranded motorists with roadside companions like Derpie the Duck, Mr. Speckles the Chicken, and a registered relaxation donkey named Tiddly Winks. Offered at no extra charge, AMA members will have access to highly-trained, therapeutic animals who bring a little TLC and companionship to stressed-out motorists.

“We see it all the time – you’ve got somewhere to be -- the stress of breaking down unexpectedly, then facing delays in your day,” says veteran tow truck driver Mitchell Brown, who’s seen too many cases of post-breakdown stress disorder. “For a lot of motorists, that roadside anxiety continues to build while we change a flat tire or boost a battery. But it can be easily treated with something as simple as a chinchilla or a baby goat. We just have to be alert to allergies.”

The Roadside Comfort Pet program has been a huge hit through the pilot stages, clearing the way for a province-wide roll out this spring.

“It isn’t enough to take care of our members’ batteries. We don’t want to just change a tire, fix a bike chain or tow your minivan to an Approved Auto Repair Service facility. Our members expect more, and they deserve more. We want to care for the whole person, not just the part of them that left their headlights on,” says Brown, who’s skepticism faded when he saw first-hand how a therapeutic hamster turned a traumatic breakdown into a fuzzy wuzzy moment.

Early results have been extremely positive. Since AMA started experimenting with roadside assistance puppies, member satisfaction scores have flown through the roof. During the pilot stages, 93% of stranded motorists held a puppy to their nose and said “Awwwww… you’re such a cutie-patootie… who’s a good boy, huh?”

Never an organization to rest on its laurels, AMA is eager to make this new program available to every member this spring.

“We’re not saying this is for everyone,” admits Brown. “If the motorist isn't seeing eye to eye with their comfort parrot, it can be pretty distracting while I’m checking to make sure the alternator is holding a charge. But we've learned a lot - for example, most people don't seem to appreciate therapy ferrets.”

Learn more about AMA’s new Roadside Comfort Pet program by contacting the AMA Newsroom at 1-888-960-6397. Feel free to click and download the high-res images below to use in your publication, website or social media channels.