Therapy dogs are helping this EPA regional office handle stress

ThinkProgress

On a sunny Thursday morning in May, a group of therapy dog volunteers left the heat behind as they entered a Denver office building on Wynkoop Street. They were there to see the staff working at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 8 headquarters.

The handlers and their companions made their way through airport-like security, showing their photo I.D., scanning any bags, and walking through a magnetometer, before signing in at the reception desk and being escorted to a conference room. The visit marked nearly a year since the “Dog Days at EPA” pilot program began.

Since June 2017, therapy dogs have been providing stress relief services to those working in the regional EPA office. With the headquarters based in Denver, Colorado, those serving Region 8 are responsible for overseeing more than 10 million residents across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.

The region covers six states including Utah, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, and 27 tribal areas. Water, mining, and Superfund sites are among the numerous environmental issues Region 8 staff deal with on a daily basis.

For about an hour each month, the dogs and their handlers spend time with EPA staff, according to emails and visitor logs obtained by ThinkProgress via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

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