- By Catharine Hamm Los Angeles Times (TNS)
LOS ANGELES—No dogfight broke out after the April 25 “On The Spot” column (“Fur Will Fly in This Debate”), which raised the fraught issue of emotional support animals flying in airline cabins. There was a little growling and some snappishness, but scores of readers who responded not only helped frame the discussion but also came up with suggestions on how to address the issue.
First, their thoughts on emotional support animals, or ESAs, which are not the same as service animals that have been trained and are not pets.
Some names have been withheld for privacy because of medical issues.
— It’s cheating and it’s outrageous
Helene Kimmel of Porter Ranch knows people who disguised their animals as ESAs to avoid paying a pet sitter or a fee to fly their furry friend.
“I believe that true service animals must be allowed to accompany their owners on planes, trains and subways,” Kimmel wrote, “but I am outraged at the deceit of some animal owners.”
— It’s a disservice to your pet
Michael Carson of Palm Springs loves his pets but, he wrote, “We just would not dream of dragging them on a plane…
“Your Maltese Fifi may be as cute as a button, but stop ripping off the airlines, stressing the dog and annoying the rest of us. Leave her at home.”
— Consider those with allergies
“My husband has severe asthma and allergies,” Becky Davis of Goleta wrote.
“Just as airlines no longer serve peanuts in deference to those with severe peanut allergies, I hope they will severely restrict all but service animals from sharing cabin space” out of consideration.
— Give peace a chance
Anne K. Marcum of Hesperus, Colo., said, “I believe that someone’s right to carry their precious Fifi on the plane should end where my rights begin: the right to peaceful travel!”
— Airlines aren’t omniscient, either
How does an airline anticipate allergic reactions to a variety of animals and prepare for their varying degrees of cleanliness, Laura Veltman of Eastvale, Calif., asked.
“Do I have a peacock allergy?” she wrote. “Did a support turtle leave traces of salmonella on my armrest? Are those blueberries on the floor or a gift from my seatmate’s support bunny?”
— Animals aren’t always angels
Some animals cause problems for those who have legitimate service animals. Piper Belanger of Acton recounted this story of a journey with her husband, Larry McMahan:
“My husband, who is paralyzed on his right side, his service dog and I took a flight from LAX to North Carolina. A couple with a cocker spaniel on a retractable leash approached us before boarding, and their dog barked like crazy and tried to get close to our service dog, Abby.
“As we always do, I gave our Abby a mild sedative…. though she is quite friendly and well trained.
“When the couple with the cocker spaniel came down the aisle, their dog lunged at Abby…. The couple did nothing, but my husband instinctively lowered his one working hand to protect Abby and the cocker spaniel bit his hand….
“The couple still said nothing and progressed down the aisle to their seats. We were given paper napkins to stop the bleeding; it took several.”
They got no satisfaction from the airline’s customer service department: “We were told this injury was not the fault of (the airline)…. And we have had no correspondence from the couple.”
Other airlines should follow the leads of United and Delta, which recently began requiring more documentation, Belanger wrote. She also would like a ban on retractable leashes and thinks an animal should be carried, not walked, down an aisle, if that’s possible.
Another reader who travels with a service animal because of physical and emotional issues is afraid to fly because of badly behaved emotional support animals: “How do I know if someone’s pet is not going to try and attack my working dog?”
Those are among the scores of opinions and concerns, but many readers also understand that legitimate emotional support animals can play an important role in helping travelers.
There are no easy solutions, but readers had some good ideas about starting points.
“Book your flight with the airline that has the strictest rules about animals.”
— Make room
“All pets on airlines should be in crates,” said Susan Werner of Los Angeles. “Airlines should have a certain number of crates that have replaced (some) seats and the (owner’s seat) should be right next to the crate so the passenger can sit right next to their pet in case it really is, indeed, a service animal.”
— Apply the rules evenly, and make people pay
“One of the airlines’ biggest problems has always been consistent rule application,” said Rich Mathus, a former airline gate agent who lives in Dr. Phillips, Fla. “In the short term, airlines need to state that they do not recognize ESA cards.
“Then the government needs to step in and review both the Americans With (Disabilities) Act and the Air Carrier Access Act to determine how/whether emotional support animals need to be addressed and harmonize the statutes to eliminate the gray area that has created the growing fraud.”
And he made this point: “The high prices charged for pets in the cabin and unaccompanied minors are designed to be a disincentive.”
One reader said she would pay to have her emotional support animal with her: “Would I fly without him by my side? No. Having him with me and available to touch or pet greatly relieves my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and anxiety.”
But if your animal is just a pet along for the free ride? Susan Werner gets the last word on this: Taking your pet is a “luxury just like traveling on an airplane is.”
(Have a travel dilemma? Write to email@example.com. We regret we cannot answer every inquiry.)
©2018 Los Angeles Times
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COMMENTS FROM LOVINMYPUP.COM:
The debate continues as to Emotional Support Animals versus trained and certified Service Animals. There are many questions and much confusion within this topic. One needs a Physician’s Prescription / letter to have an emotional support animal. These animals are not allowed to be in restaurants or grocery stores. Service Dogs are allowed to go anywhere. My Bella (pictured above) was trained for over a year to be my Mobility Service Dog. When she goes to a restaurant she is trained to sleep under the table-out of sight. When she goes to a movie, she again lays down and sleeps. No one knows she is there. There have been may times that wwe have seen ES animals start barking when they see Bella. Bella does not bark back. She is trained. This is an interesting article on this dilemma which is raging across our country at present.
If you are thinking about travelling on an airline with your pet you will need to have information on the airlines, the airport, and the state regulations In researching this topic, we found an article on the CreditCards website All pet parents who love their fur babies were appalled at the recent events occurring during travels via airlines with your pets. It is a tragedy for these families. This article from Credit one.com is an overview of travelling with your pet. For a comprehensive outline of travelling with your pet on the airlines click on this link on CreditCardscom for much needed information! It includes pet friendly airports. state to state requirements and much much more. Anything you need to know about airline safety with the airlines.which gives you an enormous amount of information in one article. if you re contemplating a trip click on the link and get the information you need to fly with your pet.
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PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS OR OPINIONS BELOW. AND DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR LOVE WITH YOUR FURRY FRIENDS EVERY DAY!