Friday, March 6, 2015

Pets on Jets -- the Fur Flies




Yesterday I spoke of the startling increase in the numbers of pets flying in airplanes as emotional support animals.

This trend may make flying more comfortable for distressed people, but it is not without cost.  Many passengers hate it.  The matter has been discussed in news articles, and I am sharing some responses from people who wrote to comment after reading such stories.

Not surprisingly, somewhat more of the writers are critical of the phenomenon.  When people are pleased with things as they are, they are less likely to take up their pens and join the discussion.



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If you want to make a real difference in how pleasant flights are, ban children. If you want to make a real difference in how safe flights are, ban alcohol.

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I sat next to a woman who said she had her dog certified as a comfort animal just to avoid the airline fee. She flat out admitted it was not truly needed as a therapy animal. She just felt like it.


A Dialog

Complaint:  I have horrible allergies to animals and I need to travel for work every month.  Fido gets to fly while I have to take a later flight.  One time it took me three days to get home because "emotional support dogs" were on every flight.

Response: Allergy medicine is much easier to come by, easier to take and more effective than drugging up someone with psychological issues so they can fly.  Get over it.





A Funny Story



Above is a cellphone picture that went viral.  It shows a woman carrying her emotional support animal, a 70-pound pot-bellied pig, onto an airplane.  When she set the pig down on a seat -- it was too big to fit under a seat -- other passengers complained that it stank, made unpleasant noises and acted like, well, a pig. Owner and pet were ejected before the plane took off.


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They need to charge people to bring on emotional support dogs. It's a scam that other passengers will have to pay for in time. I pay for my little dog to fly in a crate under the seat once a month - I'm not so unstable that I need emotional support from my dog. I don't recall seeing people flip out on planes before this scam started (unless they were drunk).


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A Dialog

Complaint: Some stupid bitch just walked on my flight with a big shaggy dog. No kennel. Just on a leash. And, there's no way she needs an assistance dog. WTF!?

Response:  Sounds more like a case of someone got on the plane with an emotional support animal and some stupid bitch got his panties all in a bunch over it for absolutely no reason other than he's a miserable shrew who hates dogs.


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If we're going to allow pets in the cabin, then why don't we just turn off the no smoking light while we're at it.

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If you have such severe allergies that the presence of pet dander (or peanuts) can cause serious injury or death, you shouldn't be flying on a public plane, whether animals/pets are banned or not. With such a severe condition, locking yourself in an uncontrolled, confined space that is potentially hours away from medical attention is quite risky and fairly foolish.

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Fake certification scams abound online. For a few hundred bucks, I could "certify" a giant hissing cockroach as a "service" animal.


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I have had horrendous experiences in the past two weeks.
       The first time, a very pregnant woman boarded the plane with an ESA dog and took the middle seat next to mine. Obviously there was not a lap for her dog so it sprawled across her with its head in my lap and its tail in the lap of the teenage boy next to the window. It got worse halfway into a five-hour flight when the dog began to smell.  We were both covered by dog hair and disgusted by the odor.
      Last week, on a different flight, an ESA dog with a woman became sick and vomited on the passenger next to her. People for three rows in both directions were gagging and becoming ill with the stench. I asked the woman what she thought she was doing and she said, "What can I do, my dog lives in Phoenix."
      Don't these selfish people realize that not only are they trying to skirt the system, they are abusing the rights of others and actually torturing these helpless dogs who can't endure four- and five-hour plane flights without toilet and exercise privileges.
       The dogs seemed nice, it was their nutty owners who caused the problem. If these folks are such emotional wrecks they can't travel without an ESA dog perhaps they should stay at home or get a stuffed animal -- after all, traveling is stressful.

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Certainly better in the cabin than in the hold, where pets routinely DIE (look it up!).
     I would love to abide by the rules, but you can sure bet I'd lie and put a service vest on my dog before I'd trust her LIFE to the airlines.


Another Funny Story



This is another cellphone picture, taken during the course of a cross-country flight. The woman is walking her dog off an airplane after it had two episodes of diarrhea in the plane's aisle.  The plane's crew had run out of paper towels to clean up after the dog, and so the jet made an unscheduled stop in Missouri.  A ground crew cleaned up the mess, sanitized the cabin and presumably restocked its cleaning supplies.  Then the plane -- with the dog back onboard -- took off and continued to its destination.

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A Dialog

Complaint: Switching seats doesn't always solve the allergy problem.  For people with significant animal dander allergies an animal on the plane can lead to a severe asthma attack and misery.

Response A:  If the flight time is the one the person with the service dog wants/needs to take legally they cannot be denied access to the flight. If someone is that allergic it is their issue and they would have to get off the flight.

Response B:  If switching seats does not solve the problem, then maybe the person should consider driving to their destination, for it is impossible to control dog hair left on the clothes of people, just as it is with perfume, which many people are allergic to as well.

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I have an emotional support dog due to acute post-traumatic stress disorder. It is small, properly trained and registered, and I have no issue with an airlines employee politely asking to view my folder I take with me.
     I was loudly asked the nature of my disability, not for my papers that are all in order.  A poorly trained employee loudly humiliated me in front of more than 100 waiting passengers.
     I have an issue due to an injury.  I agree many are abusing the system that is set up for people that sincerely need the companion to overcome panic and anxiety disorders. Train airline staff to inquire discretely.

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Just another reason to hate flying.  I am deathly allergic to cats and I was told that I would have to find another place on the plane or get off.  It should be the other way around.


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This should be stopped, plain and simply. I am a dog owner and a psychiatrist. This is a matter of public rights vs. private perception and self-indulgence. I live in a state where medical marijuana and soon, legal recreational marijuana will be permitted. I look forward to the latter because by and large the former is a sham. Medical marijuana has become the means to consume for any 'patient' who wishes, with no diagnosis or complaint off limit, from knee pain to headache.
     Similarly, emotional support animals require nothing more than a subjective complaint and a compliant practitioner (though the reality is that many don't bother with this minor inconvenience).          Curious how there seems to be an epidemic of people claiming the need to impose their dogs on the public, in the absence of any evidence that dogs are a new discovery or mental disorders are increasing.
     What has changed is our common sense as a society, our willingness to tolerate nonsense, increase in self-indulgence and lack of common courtesy.
     The only reason for dogs to be allowed in the public should be the narrow circumstances of highly trained service dogs with specific impairments such as blindness. Credible certification should be required and should be produced upon request. Workplaces, public transit and inside spaces should otherwise be animal-free.


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