Denver International Airport
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- United States
- Phillip A. Washington
- Passenger Count :
- 58,828,552 (2021)
- Runways :
- 7/25 – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |8/26 – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |16L/34R – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |16R/34L – 4,877m (16,000 ft) |17L/35R – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |17R/35L – 3,658m (12,000 ft)
Denver International Airport (DEN) has just received the Guinness World Record for having the world’s largest airport animal therapy program. DEN has become famous for its large team of therapy animals. The animals and their handlers comprise the airports Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS). The unique unit is designed to help nervous travelers be more comfortable during their travel experience. The teams consist of one animal and a handler who travel around the airport visiting passengers to brighten their days and make flying less stressful.
The CATS program currently consists of 84 animals made up of 33 dog breeds and one cat. The program has grown significantly since its humble beginning in 2015, when it started its volunteer therapy services with 28 animals made up of 14 breeds. Throughout 2022, volunteers have put in over 1,250 hours to the program. The teams all gathered in the Jeppesen terminal to receive the award on September 15th. The record will appear in the 2023 world record book.
The CATS team gathered in celebration of the award. Photo: Denver International Airport
DEN’s CEO, Phil Washington, shared how grateful he and the administration team are for their volunteer efforts and the extraordinary service provided to airport passengers and employees. He also shared how proud they were of their world record achievement. Washington stated,
“We are extremely proud of our CATS program and grateful for all the volunteers who donate their time to bring joy to our passengers and employees,”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.”
Ironically Denver’s CATS program only has one cat. Photo: Denver International Airport
The Managing Editor at Guinness World Records, Adam Millward, said,
“Whether it’s with a lick, a nuzzle or some amusing antics, our four-legged friends have an amazing ability to make us smile — even when we might be feeling stressed or anxious,”The Canine Airport Therapy Squad at Denver Airport has taken this innate skill and run with it. It’s a pleasure to be able to recognize the hard-working dogs as well as their owners, who selflessly give up their time to brighten the day of thousands of travelers every year.”
In the US, 90 airports have animal therapy programs, several of which trail closely behind DEN’s CATS program. The closest is the program at Los Angles International Airport (LAX). LAXs animal therapy program, known as Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP), currently has 75 animals. PUP previously had 123 animals before the pandemic.
Airport animal therapy services were suspended during the pandemic. Photo: Denver International Airport
When COVID-19 restrictions were enforced, many animal therapy programs at airports were temporarily suspended. During this time, PUP lost several teams with multiple volunteers moving states and some dogs retiring or passing ways. The data recorded for the world record was gathered in 2021 after PUPs numbers had shrunk considerably. Despite the competition, the team at PUP congratulated CATS on the achievement as both organizations seek to bring joy to others through love and service.
Airport therapy animals have become a beloved asset at many airports. Photo: Denver International Airport
Another notable airport animal therapy program is at San Jose International Airport (SJC). Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, SJC started the first airport animal therapy program in the US to help comfort passengers. The program now has 27 animals consisting of two cats and 25 dogs.
What do you think of this world record? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: The Points Guy, The Denver Post