Travel dilemmas: What you had to say about flying with support animals

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.


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 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.

Make sure that you check the links on the right side of this page for great pricing on pet supplies and products.   Also note that Amazon and Walmart are sites that you can purchase anything that they sell.. is also looking into restarting the program of featuring your  pets on line.  No decision has been made as to the location of this feature.  It may be on this site or on a seperate blog site.   More information will follow as decisions are made,  Keep coming back for more information and future updates.


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