Denver International Airport is home to the largest airport pet therapy program in the world.
There are approximately 45 programs at US airports, with LAX being Denver’s biggest competitor.
Volunteer manager Karla Grahn told Insider the dogs were in demand during the summer travel chaos.
In September, Denver International Airport won the Guinness World Record for largest airport animal therapy program, snatching the title from LAX.
Although the record is very specific, Denver had to beat around 45 competitors for the original title which sees dogs roaming the airport hallways.
The program, which has been running for eight years, will appear in the 2023 version of the record books.
Take a look at some of the dogs and a cat roaming the Denver airport.
The Canine Airport Therapy Squad, counterintuitively named CATS, took the throne for LAX’s largest airport program this year.
The 85 teams, each consisting of a therapy dog and its owner, travel around the airport in two-hour blocks.
But the numbers are down from the pre-COVID peak of 120. Program coordinator Karla Grahn said they were trying to hit 200.
Therapy dogs provide traveling emotional support to travelers, rather than focusing on a specific group.
The dogs include many recovered rescue animals that came from an environment of abuse and malnutrition, but were nursed back to health before joining the program.
There are also award-winning show dogs, including Dalmatians and Newfoundlands.
Grahn says they start in the main terminal and then tend to go to a gate that has a delayed flight.
But there is also a resident feline in the CATS program. Her name is Sally.
During a summer of unprecedented travel chaos, Grahn said the dogs had become even more prominent, standing next to queues and rushing through the airport as several flights were delayed or canceled. .
Although, like most other professions in the aviation sector, there is a post-COVID shortage, with only one team at the airport on some days.
While Grahn says the dogs are extremely popular, she says some passengers don’t want to interact with them.
“There are people who are definitely not dogs or are afraid of dogs, and our teams are very respectful of that,” Grahn said.
Grahn said the dogs are most popular with children, whose “eyes light up” when they see them.
“Animals are fantastic. They don’t judge you. You can be whatever you need in that moment and they’re there to support you,” Grahn said.
Read the original article on Business Insider