No more emotional-support animals on planes except specially trained dogs if these new FAA rules are approved

This is a huge, important distinction that people fail (sometimes willingly) to recognize when they want to see an animal ban. They equate service dog with “dog”, and so laugh at the idea of a “service horse”. But

The reason those two species are recognized is that they are the only two domesticated species that can handle the rigors of training and also the other big requirement to be a service animal – provide a service. Most people are familiar with the concept of guide dogs. They can wrap their head around an assistance dog for deaf people. But dogs also help people in wheelchairs or with mobility problems, can detect seizures or diabetic shock before the happen and alert their owner. Those are vital medical services. We don’t see the dog “working”, because (thankfully) they’re not alerting their human charge all the damn time.

But a miniature horse can accept more weight than a dog. That person may have stability issues that are better addressed by a horse than a dog. Horses, too, can perform seeing eye and retrieval tasks and can recognize subtle changes that can indicate an oncoming crisis. And for many people, a miniature horse is far less intimidating than a dog. A person allergic to dogs may not be allergic to horses, and vice-versa.

As someone with mental health issues, I understand and sympathize with people who use ESAs, but the truth is that most of those animals aren’t providing active support to their owners, which is why they are not considered service animals. I love my cat. He does wonders for my mental health. But it’s passive. He’s not watching me for signs of a crisis and stepping in. He isn’t trained to get help if I am having a crisis.

Most dogs or horses won’t even make it through service training. The requirements are incredibly rigorous. That’s why I have no problem with certified service dog or horse, but please for the sake of your (generic you) pet at the very least, keep your untrained or minimally trained or barely housebroken pet at home. If they must come with you, please keep them in an appropriate carrier for their comfort and safety as well as that of everyone around you. If you love your animal so much that you rely on it for emotional support, maybe try caring as much for its welfare as you expect it to do for yours.


Yeah, although I’m not sure that’s likely much of a problem. ‘Genuine’ service animals tend to be small-ish, VERY well behaved, and not cause alarm and confusion where ever they go. Also, generally, disabilities that require service animals tend to be reasonably obvious to even lay observers.

If you’re a six foot buff dude who rocks up to a plane with a 10’ python ‘emotional support animal’ curled around your neck … yeah I’m gonna “paperien bitte” your ass. On the other hand, if you turn up with a cane and a slightly anxious black labrador in a harness - go ahead sir. Have a neat day.

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One time we were out and two cops on horses stroll by.

Pokey paid close attention, standing there watching as they rode off. He almost seemed to be thinking “look at the size of those dogs”.

But last year I kept wondering how I could pass him off as a “service dog” while I was in the hospital.

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Nope. As I said above about service animal training, the requirements are extremely rigorous. A “slightly anxious” dog would wash out. Any animal that is visibly “slightly anxious” would be in very early training (and would simply be there to learn how to handle crowds and be identified as “in training”) or the person is trying to skirt the rules. It’s things like this that have people conflating the two categories or insisting that service animals shouldn’t be accommodated.

I know that you’re trying to say you’ll be lenient, but most people with genuine service animals don’t want to see the requirements relaxed. They have enough trouble getting people to provide the legally mandated accommodations as it is.


I understand. In my experience, service dogs generally look slightly anxious, or at least preoccupied. Which makes sense - they’re working; constantly checking their surroundings, understanding what’s going on with their person, navigating the environment, interpreting commands and intent, not reacting to normal stimuli. Etc. Especially in a crowded, noisy, confusing, and unusual environment like an airport.

By ‘slightly anxious’ I don’t mean they’re baring their teeth or whatever, but they do look and behave very differently to a normal pet-type dog.

edit for typos and emphasis.

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I would say that is “alert” rather than “anxious”. Anxiety implies distress, which is not acceptable behavior in a service animal.


Fair enough. Based on their body language, I wouldn’t :slight_smile:

Regardless of the word we use, IME they do look and behave very differently to a normal pet-type dog.

There are multiple issues at play here. One, airlines charge exorbitant fees to bring pets onboard and many owners rightfully feel nervous about putting their beloved pets into the cargo hold. Therefore many people abuse the vague rules around ESAs in order to skirt the airline fees. Understandable in some regards but ultimately very selfish and inconsiderate to all the other passengers as well as those with legitimate service animal needs. The airlines have allowed this behavior for years so naturally it’s come to a point where government regulation must step in.

Other issue is much broader: that of pet owners today feeling not just entitled but downright indignant about being able to bring their precious fur-babies everywhere they go…grocery stores, doctor offices, workplaces, and friends/relatives houses without even asking. They even claim their pets are their “children” and get offended when others don’t see it the same way.

I love animals and have had pets my whole life. But I make sure to leave them at home where they belong and do not impose on others to accept them unquestioningly. I see this as becoming a much bigger issue these days than it used to be.


A man walks up to an airport ticket counter leading his potbellied pig on a leash. The attendant looks down with mild amusement and says “sorry, sir—no pets allowed on the plane.”

Thinking fast, the man responds “Oh, he’s not a pet. I’m blind and Rex here is my registered service animal.”

Rolling her eyes, the attendant says “Nice try, but I’m afraid trained pigs are not recognized guide animals.”

To which the man says “They gave me a PIG!?”


When I was in rehab last year, someone did have a service dog, a Labrador. He didn’t look.anxious, a couple of times when I was outside he came over to sniff (it was more like break time for him then).

At times, he was pulling the man in the wheelchair.

It was just a nice thing to have a dog there.

They’d go past my room and I’d say “hi” to the dog. One or two times he’d poke his nose in my door,me wondering if he was checking if I needed help.

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We already do that with disabled parking access and I’m not seeing anyone say we should get rid of the requirement for disabled placards or license plates to qualify to use the disabled parking. It’s a trade off, but in when the abuse becomes so ubiquitous it may be a necessary trade off.


I am allergic to both cats and dogs. I try to take allergy pills every time I fly, but on a recent flight I forgot and, lo and behold, a girl sat across the aisle from me with an “emotional support” dog. I was itchy the entire flight, which wasn’t fun. Luckily it was only 3 1/2 hours.

I don’t understand why her comfort should come at the expense of mine.


I will not travel without my piñata.

And this is why as a licensed veterinarian I F-ing hate the phrase “fur babies”. They’re not human. They do not have human rights. Other people may be allergic, or have phobias, or whatever. I have no problems with reptiles or arthropods. Does that mean I should be able to bring large snakes and tarantulas into public areas, and force everyone to suffer their presence so I can be a bit happier? (the answer is “no”)
But Bruce the tarantula is my “slightly furry baby”… go on give him a kiss…


Sprinkle some glitter on him. People love glitter.

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That doesn’t sound like a properly trained service animal.

He should have never been wandering around like that, even during “break time”. Real service animals won’t even notice you unless there’s a need to do so because of their work. They certainly aren’t looking for attention from anyone other than their person.

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I even blur any photos I post in the pets thread of our snake, because I know that some people really do not want to ever have to look at a snake, even one as sweet as ours.

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Sadly, steam rail transport for rhinos was discontinued after the sad incident which ended rail transport for rhinos by steam locomotive.

The train is more ecologically sound but the rhino may not be as chuffed.

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