Denver, CO

Four-legged volunteers manage stress at Denver International Airport

Colorado Jill
Image by Stephen Cruickshank from Pixabay

(Denver, CO) According to a recent press release from Airports Council International, Denver International Airport (DIA) was the world's third busiest airport in 2021. The only airports busier than DIA were Atlanta, Georgia, and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

In the last year, over 58 million passengers either boarded or deplaned at DIA, a 74% increase from 2020 during the height of the pandemic. That is a lot of people going through security, rushing to gates, and navigating the baggage claim area.

To help manage the stress of traveling, DIA has a Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS). This friendly group of animals includes 80 dogs and one cat (Xeli, a domestic shorthair) who stroll through the airport to provide smiles, comfort, and companionship to passengers.

There are usually three CATS visits a day, and each visit is approximately two hours, so there are plenty of opportunities to pet, hug, or take photos with this fun-loving animal crew. You will recognize the team by their violet plaid vest that says, “Pet Me.”

Research has shown that interacting with dogs and cats can reduce cortisol levels, a stress-related hormone. Since airports and stress often go hand in hand, this program is a welcome resource for passengers. Denver International Airport has the largest airport therapy animal program in the nation.

Next time you are traveling through DIA, check the airport's official Twitter page (@DENAirport) to see if any CATS are in the building.

The busy airport will seem more manageable after spending some quality time with a sweet therapy animal.

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Outdoor enthusiast | Animal lover | Museum enjoyer | Community-minded psychologist & writer exploring all things Colorado

Colorado Springs, CO

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