Emotional Support Turkeys, Pigs & Ferrets; There Could Soon Be A Limit

Open Jaw

As more passengers are travelling with their emotional support animals, airlines and mental health advocates are debating whether the practice should continue or be better managed.

A committee of airline representatives and disability support advocates have gotten together to develop guidelines for those who want to bring animals on board flights for therapeutic reasons.

The Accessible Air Transportation advisory committee, which has been meeting in Washington, D.C. since April, is coming up with new guidelines for those who want to fly with emotional support animals who comfort those with psychological or emotional issues.

The airlines allow service animals, such as seeing eye dogs, but the current debate is over what animals can be permitted for emotional support.

Animals can soothe pax who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and phobias. But the airlines have grown frustrated with healthy pax who seem to abuse the rules by claiming their pets are therapy animals in order for them to fly free in the cabin.

Obviously turkeys, roosters, monkeys, ferrets and other rodents as well as mini-horses, rabbits may seem like strange choices for emotional assistance and as mid-air cabin-mates. It can also be an issue for those with allergies and for crews that have complained they are working in what feels like a barnyard.

Airline representatives say that too many fliers claim that their pets are emotional support animals and want to keep only dogs and miniature horses as service animals that must remain in approved carriers.

Other groups, such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, suggest that animals such as dogs, cats, and rabbits should be allowed on board. The Autistic Self Advocacy network wants to include birds to the list of animals allowed on board.

Guidelines will be set in stone in October when the final meetings are held.

So, unless it’s between 2 slices of bread, your comfort turkey may soon be forbidden onboard.

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