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CATS Program Provides Four-Legged Stress Relief, Smiles for Travelers

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‘Canine Airport Therapy Squad’ to Delight Passengers at Denver International Airport

DENVER — Oct. 29, 2015 — Denver International Airport (DEN) today introduced 28 new certified and trained experts who will stroll through airport concourses and help passengers deal with the anxiety and stress of modern air travel. The Canine Airport Therapy Squad, or CATS, is made up of certified therapy dogs that will roam the airport to help relax and delight passengers. “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.”

The CATS team will begin mingling with travelers on Monday, Nov. 2. The initial team of volunteer dogs and their handlers is made up of 14 breeds that include 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. The largest CATS member 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, Colo., commutes the furthest (95.4 miles) to volunteer.

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 will average three visits each month. Passengers are encouraged to hug, pet and take photos with the canine ambassadors. Each of the CATS has his or her own trading card that include interesting facts about the dogs. 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.

Members of the CATS teams are chosen after lengthy interview and testing processes. Each dog is a family pet and must be shown to have a calm, friendly demeanor in public. 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 CATS team must have at least one year of therapy dog experience at another facility before service at DEN.

In addition, all CATS volunteers complete DEN 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 program is not the first airport dog therapy program, but with 28 dogs at its launch, it is one of the largest in the country today.


Denver International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $36 billion for the region annually. For more information visit www.FlyDenver.com, check us out on YouTube and Instagram, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for DEN’s monthly newsletter Nonstop News.


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Denver International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $36 billion for the region annually. Follow us on socials!