Stressed Traveler? Check out Denver Airport (DIA) Pet Therapy Squad

Stressed by airport crowds? You can now Pet a nice dog while traveling through Denver Airport.

This makes me feel less anxious about travel.  I say goodbye to my sweet 16-year-old Tayla at home and now know I will meet another furry friend at the airport.

Airport Pet Therapy

Airport Pet Therapy

There’s two ways to play this.  It’s either that officials at Denver International Airport have made a brilliant maneuver to calm passengers by putting a buncha furr-balls to work via the airport’s new Canine Airport Therapy Squad (aka CATS, oddly).

Or, it’s that DIA has simply gone to the dogs.  Smile.

But there’s no questioning the fact that travel is stressful, the holidays are coming and petting a dog has been shown to relax people, lower blood pressure and even speed healing in hospital environments, according to the Mayo Clinic.

DIA this week introduced 28 certified and trained therapy dogs who will work the airport concourses “to help relax and delight passengers,” the airport said.

Pet a new friend

Looking for love?

DIA isn’t the first airport to launch a dog therapy program, but with 28 members, the Denver venture is one of the largest in the country, according to the airport.

“Every once in a while, we all need a little stress release and nothing does it better than to pet or hug a friendly animal,” said airport CEO Kim Day. “Just seeing a dog on a concourse should put smiles on many faces, and we are hoping our specially trained canine volunteers make it more fun to travel through Denver International Airport.”  For me, I just want to stay and play with the cute pups and skip my flight altogether.

DIA reported a record of nearly 53.5 million total airline travelers passed through in 2014, ranking it the fifth busiest airport in the nation. The airport has an economic impact of about $26 billion a year.

Great Therapy

You are so calming

The dogs started work Monday, Nov. 2, and include 14 breeds including Newfoundlands, golden retrievers, German shepherds, terriers, a Belgian Malinois, a German shorthaired pointer, a Great Pyrenees, a hound mix, a husky/shepherd mix, a Labrador retriever, an Old English sheepdog, a puggle, and a St. Bernard.

Both the dogs and their handlers will be recognizable by custom blue plaid apparel designed specifically for the CATS program by Spyder Active Sports Inc., a Colorado company that has become one of the largest ski-specialty brands in the world.

The largest member of DIA’s CATS team is “Moose,” a 160-pound Newfoundland from Denver; and the smallest is Ripley, an 11-pound Jack Russell terrier from Arvada. “Uno,” a golden retriever from Frisco, commutes 95 miles to volunteer at the airport.


Tayla’s cousin?

The dogs and their owners are trained, certified and insured by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, and an annual recertification is required for both the dogs and their owners. Each of the CATS teams must have at least one year of therapy dog experience at another facility before service at DIA.

DIA also sent the handlers through the airport’s customer service training and field evaluations to ensure the airport’s busy environment is a good fit. Handlers also must pass airport security background checks, fingerprinting and security testing prior to receiving an airport ID badge.

The CATS and their handlers will each put in a minimum of 18 hours per quarter at the airport. While the dates of visits are flexible, teams are expected to average three visits each month.

Passengers are encouraged to hug, pet and take photos with the canine ambassadors.

Each has his or her own trading card that include interesting facts about the dogs.  Now that’s special.  I am feeling much less stressed about travel and look forward to my next DIA flight on Friday.


Reported By, research by Denver Business Journal.


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