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Americans Want A Shorter Leash On Emotional Support Animals On Planes

Airline pilots and flight attendants responded furiously after an emotional support dog bit an American Airlines’ flight attendant July 22, requiring five stitches. ( More...

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Ric Wernicke 49
I think society should bend over backwards to take care of the disabled. These people with the fluffy untrained animals are self-centered rude little pigs that use disability laws as pretext to annoy everyone else with their pets. Many places now a sign posted saying no animals except legitimate service animals.

These attention whores with the dog wearing a vest with a counterfeit patch think they are entitled to blow past the signage and take their untrained, unwashed pet anywhere. Workers who should throw these people out seem not to care.

I saw three dubious dogs in Lowe's today, and management could care less. It really chaps my hide when people are feeding their pooch at the table in a restaurant with the utensils.
John D 26
These are probably the same people you see driving around with their poodle on their lap... while driving.
That's when you ask them to enforce the law, and keep a copy of the ADA or subsequent laws asking for said documentation on you so they can prove that the ESA is truly an ESA.
Cansojr 9
There is no cause to have aninimals in the cabin. Have they had their shots for international travel. I swas nearly was bitten by a merlot on flight from DUS to YzZ. How does one find out if they get some tests conducted. All because a selfish person smuggled an animal without the appropriate tests.
ToddBaldwin3 31
I've been bitten by Merlot a few times, but it usually takes more than one.
Jeffrey Sonier 14
No more calls. We have a winner...
lynx318 7
What does he win Johnny?
Why of course Jeff, a bottle of Merlot!!
mariofer 16
I got bitten by the wife when I tried to convince her I needed an emotional support cheerleader.....
sparkie624 2
You deserved it!
Andre Amaral 1
Best comment!! :-D
Cansojr 5
I meant to say marmot.
Cansojr 3
YyZ should be YYZ.
sparkie624 5
Lol... That is a product of "Lazy" finger on the Shift Key..... LOL... Do that quite frequently and sometimes don't find out until too late and can't edit... !
Cansojr 4
I am sorry for any inconvenience I have caused our readers such as yourself.
lynx318 3
Mistakes are sadly for the world to see here. WHY NO EDIT IN CASE OF MISKATES¿ (sic)
sparkie624 2
We can ohly hope that some day that will happen... I have wished for that feature for a very long time.
So then here's the question: Did you ask the airlines on your behalf to ask for the documentation for that marmot? I am assuming that this was a US carrier. If it wasn't, then you need to see if the country that airline is based in has similar accessibility laws.

If this was a US carrier, it would be within your right to have the airline exercise their rights in this and ask for that documentation. If they didn't, not only would you have a good case for a lawsuit against the person that brought the marmot onboard, but you would also have a good case for a lawsuit against the airline for their negligence in the matter.

All proper service animals (police dogs, guide dogs, dogs trained for detecting epileptic seizures, etc., must have all shots and vaccinations in place for domestic and international travel; hell, they are more up to date on those shots than the people you'd be sitting next to on those same flights.
Cansojr 5
It was being smuggled into Canada in a ladies large purse so that no one could see it. She told me to pat it, it nearly took one of my fingers. That's why their are holds for animals must be restrained in the animal cargo hold. Who knows what that critter might be carrying hence the shots and quarantine to protect our own animals from diseases imported like the lady from Dusseldorf to Toronto.No one knows what he might be carrying.
If it was being smuggled, then the problem here is with both the security of the airport where she cleared security for travel, and the airline for not scrutinizing the passenger for having an animal not permitted for travel.

And, as I hate to say it, fault also lies with the passengers for their lack of vigilance. If the marmot was not permitted for travel in the cabin (which they aren't; they are classified as RODENTS) then every passenger on that flight should have been on ACA's arses for not getting that marmot off the flight. That is a huge problem. If anything, you sure as hell had a negligence lawsuit against ACA for not scrutinizing the animals being brought onboard.

ACA, especially with being codeshared with UAL, follows the US DOT's laws regarding service animals and ESA, especially 14 CFR Part 382, which also encompasses the ACAA. In fact:

ESA Letter Requirements
When traveling by Air Canada and your Emotional Support Animal, you will need a letter from your doctor stating your need for the animal. Your disability must also fall within the recognition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The letter must include the following information;

1. Confirmation that you need the emotional support animal for traveling
2. Must be currently under the care of a licensed physician
3. The type of doctor you are seeing
4. The date the doctor’s license was issued
5. Who issued the license
6. Dated no later than one-year from travel date

Note: Air Canada only accepts dogs as a service animal, ESA or psychiatric service animal.

Again, all you need to do is remind the airlines to enforce the law.
Stefan Sobol 1
But maybe you should take a little responsibility for the result of your action. Unless someone was holding a gun to your head, sticking your hand in a bag with a live animal was a choice you freely made and you should accept the consequences, even if the woman said that the animal doesn't bite.
Cansojr 3
It was not my marmot. It was on AIR CANADA. I do know that animals have to be caged unless it is being used by a physically challenged person.
wrong. And again, the Air Carrier Access Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act come into play for any US-based airline. Service Animals are able to go anywhere where able-bodied people can go. That said, if such an animal is an ESA, again, the provisions of the ACAA give the airlines the right to scrutinize any ESA. IF they don't, then the airline accepts the responsibility and the consequences for their inaction in scrutinizing the ESA.
Brad, as a followup: I don't know if the ACAA supersedes ADA, but ADA stipulates that only no documentation is required for Service Animals and only two questions may be asked. 1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and 2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The ADA does not classify ESA's as Service Animals and Service Animals are defined, exclusively as dogs.
The ACAA is supplemental to the ADA. The ADA allows for accommodations for all disabled people into any public or private building or business. As the airlines are in the business of transportation, the ACAA operates for the airlines in addition to the provisions of the ADA. So as far as transportation on any Part 121 operator that works with the USDOT, the ACAA is in effect.
Cansojr 1
In case you didn't notice AIR CANADA is a CANADIAN carrier subject to Canadian regulations for carrying animals. We are not Americans subject to your aviation regulations. We have our own regulations that are likely similar but not the same. How is your French?
Bill Baxter 0
Unfortunately, just asking to see the "papers" can get you sued for "discrimination". Evidently the ADA has a self-policing clause somewhere in its thousands of pages. People exploit this daily. Just walk around a Lowes or Home Depot in any town USA. We can't drive with our cell phone in our hands, good law, but you can drive around with your dog in your lap or in your arms.
Umm.. no it can't. By law, the airlines have the right to ask for it. They wouldn't be discriminating against anyone if they asked for them. See the aforementioned sections of the ACAA in the thread here for what they can and can not do.
nofossil70 3
Lowes is open to all dogs.
Mike Smith 21
Due to my work situation, my wife and I have two homes across the country from one another. Our pet has traveled with us dozens of times with us paying the $250 (RT) each time. She is kenneled (as the rules require)and definitely better behaved than many of the "Emotional Support" dogs we have seen. I have often thought I should get an on-line doggie vest that has the right words on it and save the money. But, I know this isn't right and have been anxiously waiting for the airlines to crack down on this.

I know this is our choice to spend the money and we accept that. But, repeatedly watching people cheat the system is quite frustrating. I like the idea of the "half-million dollar bond". I would suggest this go a little further. Have them put a deposit (held on a credit card or large cash deposit). If anything happens, bill them for it.

I support the airlines getting serious on this and I hope our legal system backs them when they get the Non-substantiated lawsuits start coming in.
Kimberly Wood 14
As a person who is truly disabled and has trained dogs for over 25 years, I find this to be an embarrassment. I can tell right off the get go when a dog is untrained. There needs to be documentation with the dog. A document stating the disability from a doctor and a document proving what kind of training a dog has received. If someone has a bona fide service dog, they would be more than happy to provide this information. Those that scam with their fake emotional support dog are making it hard for people with true health problems that need a dog to get around. A REAL trained service dog never bites. Some of the worst offenders are celebrities. I’ve called out many for their fake service dogs and they get agitated when I do.
Thank you, Kimberly. A voice of reason ...
sparkie624 27
Emotional Support Animals are pretty bad... Now days get one for just about any reason.... I just do not buy it personally... We have a society full of wimps!
jhakunti 9
i agree that there is a sever difference between service animals and emotional support animal. service animal is an actual need. support animal is just a person's way of saving money by not having to pay for shipping their pet.
Cansojr 4
HA HA HA HA HA HA. Can you imagine a seating option for Wimps First and Business board next, full Fare Economy, Sardine seating and then the Wimps board last. I cannot imagine that HUMILIATION you might as well take an oil tanker, they sell really cheap fares and nobody would recognize you.
Michael Hoare 2
nightflyer182 13
Nowadays I mostly see emotional support animals in retail and restaurants.

I can understand a service animal for the physically disabled, but "emotional support"???!!! Whenever I see that I read immature baby!

This has to stop before someone like that causes a major catastrophe and people die as a result!!!!
fitzmiller 13
Have the passenger with an emotional support animal post a half-million dollar bond in case the animal causes any damages.
ToddBaldwin3 24
Maybe I am being insensitive, but if you can't travel on an airplane without and Emotional Support whatever, perhaps you shouldn't be travelling in public by yourself.
M20ExecDriver 12
My dream is to fly with my emotional support python next to person with an emotional support dog or cat.
lynx318 9
I'm bringing my Emotional Support Wolverine. (The Hugh Jackman one...)
belzybob 12
Tell them to take the Greyhound, this issue is becoming a joke.
dan brite 1
if it's a greyhound, does it become a service bus... :)
jena weber 12
Support animals? A good slap (not to the animals) would cure this condition.
darjr26 10
On a Delta flight last week a family brought two dogs on board, one in a carrier and one on leash. The leash was quickly removed and the dog escaped from its owner several times. They also passed the dog back and forth , to different family members seated in different rows, I guess they all needed support. At one point they let the other dog out of its carrier, apparently the first dog wasn’t providing enough support. The “best” part was when the dog jumped on my wife’s tray table knocking her drink into her lap. It was amazing that the flight attendants couldn’t have cared less and neither did Delta’s customer service. I’m going back to flying American. They may be having some labor issues with their mechanics, but at least they don’t come on board and slobber and spill drinks on you.
PaulN2719 10
I'm still eagerly waiting the first time I read about somebody needing two seats on a flight for their emotional support imaginary friend.
Thomas Mchugh 1
the Pooka, Harvey?
joe danser 9
good. its about time... had a dog take a crap on a flight the other day and a few people got sick and thru up.Nothing worse that smelling dog crap..
Karen Norton 8
Dog crap and human vomit -- great combination of smells in a stuffy cabin...
sparkie624 7
There was a report a while back, forgot which Airline, a Service Dog took a Crap and the plane diverted due to people tossing their cookies!
Ross Selvidge 8
Require any animal serving as an "emotional support animal" when out in public to wear a muzzle.
That ought to work except that the owners would say that the animal with the muzzle would then have to have a support animal!
Most of the people traveling with emotional support animals are liars and cheaters who only want their pets to fly for free.
sparkie624 6
I think that the Owners with an emotional support animal should also be muzzeled....
John Wilson 6
The whole "emotional support / service animal" fiasco only reinforces the old truth: No idea is so good that it cannot be carried to excess.
Per the Air Carrier Access Act:

How do airlines determine whether an animal is a service animal?

Airlines can determine whether an animal is a service animal or pet by:
1. The credible verbal assurances of an individual with a disability using the animal;
2. Looking for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or tags;
3. Requiring documentation for psychiatric support animals and emotional support animals; and
Observing the behavior of animals.
4. Emotional Support and Psychiatric Service Animals - Airlines can request specific documentation and/or 48-hours advanced notice for service animals that are emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals.

What kind of documentation can be required of persons travelling with emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals?

Airlines may require documentation that is not older than one year from the date of your scheduled initial flight that states:

1. You have a mental or emotional disability that is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM);
2. You need your emotional support or psychiatric support animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination;
3. The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his/her professional care; and
4. The licensed health care professional’s; Date and type of professional license; and Jurisdiction or state in which their license was issued.

Note: Airlines are never required to accept snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, sugar gliders, and spiders.

All the airlines need to do is ENFORCE THE DAMNED LAW. It's astounding that they are either naive or ignorant in asking for something that is already granted to them BY LAW.
Michael Hoare 11
Everyone is too damn scared,especially in the US of being suedfor upsetting poor little fluffy.
Paul Lupa 4
I would like to see much more strict process if a person wants to have a 'service-animal' on public transportation. Something more like the disabled parking tag issued by the state/federal gov.

Start with a 'prescription' written by a licensed professional.
I wonder what part the $$$.$$ per ticket factors into who fly's?
I remember once flying with a police dog onboard.
He was muzzled and no one was concerned.
As clearly stated above, the regulations are there.
Logic, Reasoning, and Common Sense must prevail.
Exactly. And what people, especially in the other squawk are not wont to recognize, when the airlines don't enforce the rights that they have from the ACAA, THEY ACCEPT THE RISK OF ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO THEM.

What happens when you don't adhere to your Miranda rights when you are arrested? What you say can and will be used against you in court. Don't ask for an attorney? you're screwed because you willfully refused legal counsel.

The airlines don't use the rights given to them to ask the passenger with the ESA for the documentation proving that they are an ESA? They accept the consequences for their negligence. They should know better, let alone those here complaining about ESAs not being allowed on board. IF they on'y took their rage to the airliens and tell them to enforce the law, they wouldn't be in the situation they are in.
vprieto2604 5
People did not require ESA until a recent past, and yet kept flying. I have mixed opinions on this subject and I suspect there's a lot of abuse from people who simply want to take their pets with them whenever they travel. (NOT considering the fact that flying puts huge stress on pets EVEN if they're ESAs)
People can think up any excuse to take their pets with them.
Excellent post. As a disabled person I expect some accommodation but not while putting others in danger or great discomfort.
Support dogs...the biggest fraud in travel.
sharon bias 3
First, the animal must be trained by some sort of agency. If the agency is a 503C corporation, that's a good start. Second, along with a dog blanket that says the dog is a service animal, the owner should be forced to produce an identity card from the training agency with a picture of the dog and human. This can be harder to forge than a dog blanket.

Any dog can provide support. A support animal that's allowed to fly in the close quarters of an airplane is a whole different matter. That animal requires a whole different level of training.
Most service animals are. For example, my wife got her guide dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind:

They have been doing this for over 50 years. There are others that offer service animals and have been legitimate for just as long, if not longer.

Again, the ACAA grants the right to scrutinize and require any owner of an ESA to provide documentation from their doctor with the medical reasons for why they need the ESA while on the aircraft. The airlines have had that right for 21 years. They just need to enforce the law.
sharon, the ADA Law doesn't back you up on this. The "training" does not have to be performed by any recognized group - the Service Animal can be trained by any individual. Also, no identification or documentation can be required. is a general guideline. You can browse other pages on the site to get more specific guidelines.
curt Cressman 2
This seams like a hate chat room. I was in sales for many years and on planes every week and have "never" had an experience where a dog was not well behaved. I have seen owners insensitive to others on the plane that took their pet out without asking their seat mate. I've seen dogs flying from LA to Paris without hardly a peep. There are people who's pet is like their child and they travel with them. People make the assumption that dogs are therapy .however many of us pay a big fee to take pets with us and they travel under the seat. Keep your hats on and be sensitive to others. Stop assuming.
William Brown 2
You only need to go online and look at the ads for no questions asked certificates of need and doggie vests to carry off your scam, all in one place. They even sell reasonably priced certified letters from a "Doctor" attesting to your "condition", with no need to even speak to him, you just do the easy check-offs on the interned form with the necessary lies and send off the money. You get your money back the first time you get the dog aboard for free. Win, win. You can drive a truck thru the ridiculous loopholes in the regulations on this, starting with no oversight and no official approval needed. All to get Fido aboard and in the cabin, with no ticket, and to be able to take him into any store or any restaurant. The sites point this out to you right up front, and say nothing about honesty or any penalties for committing fraud, which is the biggest issue with this thing, plus it hurts those with genuine need, who are now under siege because of the scammers, and problems with the conduct of their totally untrained animals.
Again: Animals = Cargo Hold
Put my wife's guide dog in the cargo hold, and not only would the airline be facing a lawsuit for taking my wife's eyes away from her, but the person asking for this may find themselves locked in the cargo hold themselves.
I do not want "Support Animals" on Flights PERIOD... I was peed on my a Woman's "Support PIG" TWICE 2 years ago. And the Airline told me to just "Suck it up" or I would be BANNED. They told us that there is too much LEGAL ACTION that can be taken AGAINST the Airline, if they were to limit "Support Animals". The Airline Official, when she found out I was a Retired Pilot, spoke openly to us. She told me that they have had "People" try and claim GOLD FISH, Iguanas, Eagle and even a Baby Camel as being Support Animals. Has the WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY?
Sounds like someone who has not read the ACAA or has been properly trained on it, especially with what the airline can REFUSE TO ALLOW ONBOARD. Problem is with her and the airline, not you. Their training needs to be revisited.
freedman6469 1
Most "emotional support" animals are just over-indulged pet owners. I LOVE dogs and cats, but they should be kept in transport bags or on VERY SHORT leashes.
lynx318 1
Still saying simplest answer is muzzle, no harm to animal, no harm to people. But they better damn well have plenty of poop bags or toilet train these animals!
Bill Baxter 1
Thank you 41 for force feeding us the ADA, well intended, but poorly implemented.
Mike Williams 1
Make sure all of the animals (people too) have some sort of muzzles. Let them drink something. A full muzzle is not needed. On Tv shows, I've seen a strap on dog's muzzle. That would solve the bitting problem.
I hope the flight attendant got some sort of monetary justice. Depending on where the attendant got bit.
Also, try to remember to ask permission to touch the dog. AND do not approach the animal with a palm down. The animal may think you hitting him or she so approach the animal with the palm up-just like feeding a treat!
Mark Henley 1
Emotional Support Animals??? REALLY??
If you can't just board, sit, fly, and get off, then take a train.
And if the dog BITES a flight attendant, then kill the dog and have it tested for rabies.
twschmidt4 1
Fine, but they should still pay the pet carrier fee.
Or better yet, and again, how about telling the airlines to exercise their rights and demand to see the paperwork for the ESAs? If the passenger can't provide it, they get kicked off the plane. No carrier fee required.
Chuck Lavazzi 1
The answer seems to be relatively simple: clear certification standards for support animals nation wide. Those standards should include training that insures that your animal will be able to behave him/herself on a flight. If you have a support animal that meets standards and have proof, you can bring it on board (although you might have to pay more). If not, no deal.
John OConnor 1
Most everyone knows including the passengers with these animals that it is mostly BS and anyone can get their Doctor friend to write a note for you needed your pet to fly with. What's next for these poor people that can't handle air travel?
twschmidt4 1
Wait a minute. Most likely if you're on an airplane, you're on vacation. What emotional support will you need? You should be having a good time.
paul trubits 1
Many(if not all) cities in Europe allow dogs on public transportation. They just have to wear a muzzle. It seems to work just fine. This is about people, along with their children and pets, being responsible for their actions. I am with Charlie Lange. I don't know too many dogs that are 29 inches wide. More room for me.
charlie lange 1
neither of my bloodhounds would fit
it is highly unfortunate,that just like other issues a small group of people who abuse a privilege, cause problems for others..i worked at a large airport,and the majority of those using assist or service animals,actually need them and do not make a mockery of it,and their animals are very quiet and docile....there are some exceptions I will admit, like the woman trying to get on a flight with her "service goose" (seriously)..I have no idea how she got through security with it,but she was in a wheel chair, and her daughter who was with her,said she had plastic surgery of all things,and needed the animal to be with her..the supervisor was called and he spoke with the office at headquarters that handled such requests, and after a lot of words back and forth between the daughter,the lady,the supervisor ,the flight attendants,the captain and the office on the phone,she was allowed to board..the flight attendants were not happy and the woman was seated away from other passengers..on eof the strangest requests I have seen, and hardly a Labrador retriever!!
Jim DeTour 1
Yah I can see the boa constrictor known for loving hugs on flights.
How about reading the thread first before posting nonsense like this. Again, from the Air Carrier Access Act:

How do airlines determine whether an animal is a service animal?

Airlines can determine whether an animal is a service animal or pet by:
1. The credible verbal assurances of an individual with a disability using the animal;
2. Looking for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or tags;
3. Requiring documentation for psychiatric support animals and emotional support animals; and Observing the behavior of animals.
4. Emotional Support and Psychiatric Service Animals - Airlines can request specific documentation and/or 48-hours advanced notice for service animals that are emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals.

What kind of documentation can be required of persons travelling with emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals?

Airlines may require documentation that is not older than one year from the date of your scheduled initial flight that states:

1. You have a mental or emotional disability that is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM);
2. You need your emotional support or psychiatric support animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination;
3. The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his/her professional care; and
4. The licensed health care professional’s; Date and type of professional license; and Jurisdiction or state in which their license was issued.


Please stop exaggerating the FUD, because it's monotonously sad.
charlie lange 0
While I wholeheartedly agree that people are abusing the system and that rules need to be enforced and when you do prepare to get sued in murica for doing so; all that said, I'd rather be on a planeload of dogs than most people on board. Jus' sayin'.
M. R. 0
There were fleas on me after a AA flight about 7 months ago. I scratched for 3-4 days.. seriously 😳 imagine flying 1st class and getting fleas. Fleas don’t care about cabin location though, horrible bites I had
Even if this were true, I ask again, where were you with asking the airlines to enforce the ACAA and ask for the paperwork for the animal? They have the right to do so and will do it if you tell them. How about instead of just complaining about it, reading up on the law and what you can do with it to force those abusing it to fall under scrutiny.
M. R. 0
If your reply is directed to me the dog or other animal was on a previous flight not on my flight. Just it’s leftovers were on my seat and skin. I wasn’t around an animal for weeks prior. FYI... no complaining on a message board 👌 got it..
Emotional Support Animals ARE NOT SERVICE ANIMALS. Airlines is to blame for encouraging emotional support animals on board to pamper their passengers. They completely ignored the fact that other passengers who are uncomfortable seating next to this type of animals were kicked off the plane. Now that one of their own got taste of their own medicine, hopefully they would be sympathetic to other passengers who are very uncomfortable seating next to these dogs in close quarters. My wife is terrified of dogs. But, she is forced to seat next to this animals in cramped place for hours. What about her Anxiety attacks???? I hope more incidents like this will happen, so Airlines get sued for allowing service animals inside th passenger cabins and others are forced to seat next to them, even though they are not Service Animals.
And your case would get laughed right out of court, because of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Air Carrier Access Act, which allows for service animals to be in the cabin with the passengers. They have every right to be in the cabin along with who they are serving. Again, the law is posted above. I would suggest that you read it instead of posting drivel low information drivel like this, because it is obvious you don't know what you are talking about.
houseofgold -3
What does Sully have to do with this????


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