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Service animals
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Let’s be honest about service animals and traveling

(Flicker Martha Soukup)

Travel season is heating up. With the kids getting out of school soon, many folks are cross checking prices to get out of Dodge for a while. Which brings us to the latest development from American Airlines. Let’s talk about service animals.

I’d like to be among the first to applaud American Airlines for it’s new, very specific policy about service animals. In an effort to be fair, let’s back up and consider the entire concept of service animals in the first place.

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I understand that there are many people that live with crippling anxiety or have PTSD from military service or a traumatic event. People have found that having an animal around helps them to relax. Fair enough. Should these folks be allowed to travel, absolutely. Should they be allowed to travel by airplane? Well, that depends.

American Airlines distinguishes between a fully trained psychiatric support animal and a less trained emotional support animal.

If your mental anguish is so severe that the only way a person can travel is to bring along an emotional support travel, who am I to say no? Therein lies the rub. The first few iterations of service animals were mostly dogs and cats. Now, people claim that they can only be supported by everything from ferrets to goats to snakes. And we all know what happens when you bring snakes on a plane.

Because air travel is basically expensive public transportation, someone had to draw the line. I think American Airlines got it mostly correct.

I’m sorry, but for the sake of all the other passengers who have varying degrees of anxiety about flying, I think that only fully trained support animals should be allowed in the cabin. Most of the time this means dogs. If you’ve seen a trained service dog in action, then you know what I’m talking about.

American now bans the following:

  • Amphibians
  • Ferrets
  • Goats
  • Hedgehogs
  • Insects
  • Reptiles
  • Rodents
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Sugar gliders
  • Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, & birds of prey)
    Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (excluding miniature horses
    properly trained as service animals)
  • Any animal that is unclean / has an odor

They have quite a few more rules, and I think it’s a good thing. People have long been abusing the concept of service animals at the expense of all the other paying travelers.

If it were up to me, I would also ban mini-horses in the cabin. You ever been around a mini-horse? Just saying.

Now if we can just stop people from putting counterfeit service vests on their dogs and bringing them into Trader Joe’s.

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

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