Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Saturday, February 24, 2018

Increasingly, Americans are bringing pets on planes to destress. But there's little rigorous evidence to back them up.




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A college student wanted to bring a hamster on a plane and then flushed it down an airport toilet after Spirit Airlines told her she wasn't allowed to board with it. A United Airlines passenger attempted to get on a flight with a peacock. Another air traveler took a turkey on a plane. Yet another brought on a duck wearing red booties. Just Wednesday, a dog's teeth scraped a little girl's head on a Southwest Airlines flight.

These were real events that happened in America: travelers toting "emotional support animals," claiming they need the ESAs (which are distinct from service animals trained to help those with physical disabilities) to stay calm while flying. And there are more of them out there: in January, Delta reported that it carries around 700 service or support animals daily and has had to create a special support desk for them.

How is it legal to bring your duck on the plane? Under the federal Air Carrier Access Act, passengers are allowed to bring animals aboard by showing a letter from a mental health clinician or doctor asserting that the pet is part of their therapy. But the law is surprisingly vague about which species can come on board and gives airlines significant discretion. "You are never required to accommodate certain unusual service animals (e.g., snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders) as service animals in the cabin," it reads.

Yet as a quick Google search will show, it's possible to obtain these letters online for a small fee. Some passengers may very well be exploiting the law to bring pets on planes. And stories about peacocks and ducks in booties on planes are increasingly leading ESAs (and their handlers) to be treated as a punchline. In the New York Times, columnist David Leonhardt called the animals a "scam" and "one of the downsides of a modern culture that too often fetishizes individual preference and expression over communal well-being."

But before we consider these animals a national blight, we should ask: Do they actually work to help people in distress cope? What do we really know about the emotional support value of pets?


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Oops... I should have scrolled down further before I posted.

Apologies, didn't mean to step on toes.

#1 | Posted by LampLighter at 2018-02-24 02:45 PM | Reply

Wait. You can do this? Hello, emotional support crocodile :)

#2 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2018-02-24 06:06 PM | Reply

Wait. You can do this? Hello, emotional support crocodile :)

So long as you aren't flying into a crocodile FREE zone, I would have no objection ....

#3 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2018-02-24 06:50 PM | Reply

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