If you’ve ever encountered a therapy animal at Denver International Airport, chances are it’s an airport employee.
The Canine Animal Therapy Squad (CATS) has been easing nervous flyers since October 29, 2015 (National Cat Day, Everyday), with 28 members from 14 breeds. “Today the program includes 84 members and 33 breeds plus one cat (and, of course, their human handlers),” airport officials wrote.
Despite a pandemic of ‘paws’ (their language, not ours, but we love it!), the CATS program has resumed with teams having donated more than 1,250 hours of time so far in 2022, officials said. responsible.
On Thursday, September 15, the 80+ member team received its due as the largest airport pet therapy team in the world. It’s a niche title, of course, but also verified by the Guinness Book of World Records. The dogs and their handlers gathered on Level 5 of the Jeppesen Terminal on Thursday morning to celebrate the four-legged friends and receive a plaque for the title, which will appear in the 2023 book.
“We are extremely proud of our CATS program and grateful to all of the volunteers who give their time to bring joy to our passengers and employees,” DIA CEO Phil Washington said in a press release. “The continued growth of the program is a testament to the positive impact it has on travelers, and we look forward to welcoming even more teams as we continue to grow this beloved program.”
Want to participate? All CATS are registered with a recognized animal therapy association and are trained and insured, DIA said. “CATS volunteer handlers wishing to apply with their pet must have experience working with a recognized animal therapy organization and must be registered with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Pet Partners.” (For more information on joining the program, email [email protected])
Check out our event slideshow and be sure to seek out a four-legged friend the next time you need a pre-flight pet or cuddle. (Look for them throughout the facility by their distinctive purple plaid “Pet Me” vests.)
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