Denver International Airport is home to the world’s largest airport animal therapy program.
There are around 45 programs across 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 took the Guinness World Record for the largest airport animal therapy program, snatching the title from LAX.
While the record is highly specific, Denver had to beat out around 45 competitors for the quirky title that sees dogs roam the airport’s halls.
The program, which has been running for eight years, will appear in the 2023 version of the record book.
Take a look at some of the canines, and one cat, that roam Denver’s airport.
The Canine Airport Therapy Squad, counterintuitively named CATS, took the throne for the biggest programme from LAX Airport this year.
The 85 teams, each consisting of a therapy dog and its owner, roam the airport in two-hour blocks.
But numbers are down from a pre-COVID peak of 120. Programme coordinator Karla Grahn said they’re trying to get to 200.
Therapy dogs provide roaming emotional support for travelers, rather than focusing on a specific group.
The dogs include lots of recovered rescue animals who came from a background of abuse and malnutrition, but had been coaxed back to health before joining the program.
There are also prize show dogs, including dalmatians and newfoundlands.
Grahn says they begin in the main terminal, and then tend to travel to a gate that has a delayed flight.
But there is also one resident feline on the CATS programme too. Her name is Sally.
During a summer of unprecedented travel chaos, Grahn said the dogs became even more important, standing beside queues and rushing across the airport as several flights got delayed or canceled.
Though like most other professions in the aviation sector, there is a post-COVID shortage, with only one team in the airport some days.
While Grahn says the dogs are hugely popular, she says there are some passengers that don’t want to interact with them.
“There are people that are definitely not dog-people or are afraid of dogs, and our teams are very respectful of that,” Grahn said.
Grahn said the dogs are most popular with kids, whose “eyes light up” when they see them.
“Animals are fantastic. They don’t judge you. You can be whatever you need to be at that moment and they’re there to support you,” Grahn said.
Read the original article on Business Insider