Des Moines International Airport will save about $96,000 after a local woman gave officials a way out of a $100,000 requirement to build a doggy bathroom inside the terminal.
 
Airport Executive Director and General Manager Kevin Foley had told the Airport Authority Board that the specially designed terminal restroom for canines -- complete with a fake fire hydrant to add inspiration, and a special flushing mechanism -- was required by federal law.

But along came Nicole Shumate, executive director of the nonprofit Paws & Effect, which provides service dogs to veterans and others. She told Foley that she could save him some money by backing some less expensive options and writing him a letter to support a waiver of the rule.

Shumate thought the indoor dog bathroom was unnecessary. Most dogs can go six to eight hours easily without going, she said. Owners tend to let dogs go before they enter the airport, and beeline it for grass after landing at a destination. The airport fenced off a grassy area next to the parking garage that provides doggy do bags and the requisite red fake fire hydrant. Crews also added bags and cleaning supplies in the terminal  in case of accidents. New signs will let dog owners know of the outdoor facilities for canine visitors. Foley figures the airport will spend $4,000 instead of $100,000 to provide for the service dogs' relief.

In other airport news:
  • TSA reminded travelers that they now can send photos of items they want to carry on to TSA on Twitter or Facebook to ask if they are allowed. You'll get an answer within 30 minutes. TSA.gov has answers, too.
  • TSA officials displayed items confiscated at Des Moines airport checkpoints. They included fake hand grenades, BB guns, a brass-knuckles belt buckle, large cans of hairspray, credit-card knives, and corkscrews that have a foil knife on the end. They reminded us that the FAA has now banned Samsung 7 cellphones on flights because the phones have a tendency to catch on fire.