airlines and service animals

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melsbells
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airlines and service animals

Post by melsbells » Fri Feb 2, 8:54 2018

NPR article where I reada bout this
That policy, which allows service and support animals to accompany passengers on flights, is now being changed by United to require greater documentation about the need for the animal and to show that the animal has had adequate training, has all immunizations up to date and is in good health.
[emphasis mine]

from United
Currently, customers with emotional support animals must provide 48 hours' notice to the Accessibility Desk and a letter from a mental health professional. Starting March 1, in addition to 48-hour notice and an enhanced letter from a mental health professional, we will require customers traveling with an emotional support animal to provide additional documentation including:

The customer must provide confirmation that the animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting and acknowledge responsibility for the animal's behavior.
The customer must also provide a health and vaccination form signed by the animal's veterinarian. The veterinarian must also affirm that there is no reason to believe that the animal will pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others on the aircraft or cause a significant disruption in service.
[emphasis mine]

Emotional support animals are service animals! They are already required to have proper training, be up to date with vaccines, and a good bill of health. Temperament comes under the proper training. They aren't always dogs. Some Service animals are required to be large to physically support or in some cases pin down their charge. Dogs are often chosen for their size, train-ability, and acceptance, but other species of service animals exist. When I took my PTSD/seizure-service-dog-in-training (what would be considered an emotional support animal) with me via airplane, it couldn't fly in cabin with me, because it hadn't reached that point in training to be certified. And I certainly needed veterinary certificates about health and vaccination, same as animals that get certified to read with children or visit hospitals and nursing care facilities. What I didn't have to do and what no one should ever have to do is provide a letter from a mental health professional that discloses the reason that a service animal is needed.
Recently on a plane, I listened to a man explain again and again to airline personnel what his disability was and how his wife supported him and thereby why they needed to sit together. Finally someone talked to him who set things correct and confirmed that he didn't in fact need to disclose his disability with the note his doctor provided, after he had already told multiple people while pleading his case.
Ugh, and the number of personnel in airports pushing customers in wheelchairs that have no idea how to provide wheelchair service, like making sure foot rests are properly adjusted to prevent feet from dragging on the floor, or backing into an elevator so there's enough clearance to maneuver and the person in the wheel chair is facing the same direction everyone generally turns to face in elevators, was absolutely disgusting.

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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by DarkOne » Fri Feb 2, 9:20 2018

I think the intent is to filter out the people who exploit the benefit by bringing on board their pet and passing them off as emotional support animals. I agree with you that disclosing the reason is unnecessary, and I'm sure that portion will be legally challenged. I have no clue how lax the previous requirements were, but I understand the request to show that a) the animal in question is, in fact, trained to provide a service and safe to board the aircraft, and b) a declaration by a professional stating that the passenger requires the support animal (no reason required.)

I'm not sure how else they could better control the legitimacy of the animals. Maybe stiffer penalties on people who are proven to have submitted fraudulent documentation? A whistleblower program? Idunno -- I can't come up with a simple way to filter out the cheaters.

This is a prime example of where the asshole cheaters ruin it for everyone.
Last edited by DarkOne on Fri Feb 2, 14:10 2018, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by Taurwen » Fri Feb 2, 13:11 2018

Is this something were certification is different from state to state? It really seems like if emotional support animals are trained and certified that should be that.
If anyone can apply for and receive an "emotional support animal" label for their pet without training and certification I can see why Airlines have run into problems.

That being said, you're absolutely right that a letter from a health care provider with the diagnoses is insane. They should say they only accept certification from real places that proves your animal has actually been trained.

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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by Chococat » Fri Feb 2, 13:46 2018

In the States at least, pets can be deemed emotional support animals with absolutely no training, and documentation can be attained through websites without even a doctor’s visit. My cousin had her dog ‘certified’ as an emotional support animal only so that she wouldn’t have to pay to have the dog transported in stowage. (I think animals in stowage is a terrible idea, but I don’t think it’s okay for her to game the system.)

I acknowledge the legitimacy of most emotional support animals and I agree that United is handling the situation poorly, but more needs to be done to ensure that both the animals and the people around them are safe and comfortable.

I read an article from the Washington Post about the situation about a week ago, here’s the link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/ani ... 646a25e590

Any thoughts on the emotional support peacock kerfluffle? I don’t have any experience with peacocks and am curious what kind of training would go into preparing a peacock to serve that role.
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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by melsbells » Fri Feb 2, 15:35 2018

The problem is certainly that different states have different regulations for service animals and there are companies that provide certification to anyone for a fee. In the airline's defense, the NPR article mentions that they first requested that the US Department of Transportation update their guidelines. Reasonable regulations from my point of view would include that the animal be microchiped with vaccination and health certificate linked to the chip number (something required by many legitimate certificate programs). The airline could have a list of approved certificate programs and accept appeals for other programs to be accepted as well, though I could see how that puts undue financial burden on the airline. Nothing beyond the doctor's notification that is currently required.
Chococat wrote:
Fri Feb 2, 13:46 2018
Any thoughts on the emotional support peacock kerfluffle? I don’t have any experience with peacocks and am curious what kind of training would go into preparing a peacock to serve that role.
One of the biggest parts of using an animal for any service position is testing for temperament and how the animals deals with stress. One reason service animals retire into pets is because they have long hours, work overtime, are always on call, and that stress can make any animal sick.
I have mixed feelings on the service peacock. I don't think it's an impossible position for a peacock to take on, but airline regulations against transporting exotic birds are to prevent illegal trade and I'm glad that position stands. I don't think the peacock should be a support animal where it is an exotic bird, not because it wouldn't be able to fulfill that role, but as protection to the species. Another reason I would advise someone against using a peacock for this purpose is that there is already a trade-off with service animals attracting attention and I would imagine that the more exotic the animal, the more people want to inquire about it.

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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by Bork » Sat Feb 3, 13:14 2018

The issue isn't people with actual disabilities bringing their real emotional support animals on planes - as far as I'm aware, nobody is trying to say that emotional support animals don't provide a valid, necessary service. But people are absolutely exploiting this to bring their untrained pets on board without having to pay and without having to keep them in an appropriate container, and that's fucking bullshit. Other passengers and flight attendants have been attacked and injured by animals on flights - that's not okay, and that's not something that should be happening if the animal was appropriately trained. I don't think this is unreasonable at all, and in fact I think it's taken way too long to happen.
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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by rowan » Sun Feb 4, 10:43 2018

The problem is that airlines are requiring these papers 48 hours in advance which basically is an ADA compliance problem, and an issue if you have to fly suddenly due to a death in the family, or if you have a job that requires last minute travel. This is absolutely a horrible way to handle the problem of people gaming the system and absolutely an unreasonable way to do it. I hope that it gets seriously challenged and that we get a better way to certify support animals, and a way to do this by punishing the people gaming the system, not punishing people with disabilities.
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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by melsbells » Tue Feb 6, 13:52 2018

Pretending your dog is a service animal is punishable by fine or imprisonment in California. I'm not sure how effective that law is.

I hadn't even considered the 48 hours clause, too worked up over unnecessary disclosure.

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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by rowan » Wed Feb 7, 15:10 2018

For real disclosure is also an issue. I do believe you already have to disclose to the airlines when flying (by bringing the papers with you), so most of my friends were angry at the 48 hour problem.

IDK about peacocks though, they are evil mean birds, who actually would use one as a service animal. I admit I didn't read the actual story though, and this is just my visceral reaction to WTF WHY
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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by Taurwen » Wed Feb 7, 16:40 2018

My understanding is that out there therapy animals are used often to engage, birds in particular because of the different textures they provide.

I absolutely do not want one on my flight though lol

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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by Bork » Thu Feb 8, 18:27 2018

I wasn't under the impression that people would need to disclose why they needed an emotional support/service animal, just a letter indicating need to travel with an emotional support animal. Maybe I'm interpreting it differently than others because I support this, but that seems reasonable and like it can be done without disclosing any confidential medical information.


People brought SPIDERS ON BOARD. SPIDERS, YOU GUYS, SPIDERS. HOW IS THAT OKAY.
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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by melsbells » Sat Feb 10, 13:27 2018

Where I'm inferring disclosure is that the airline already required a letter from a mental health professional, but now this letter has to be "enhanced" include more information about the need for the animal. I understood that as disclosing more information than they have the right to know.

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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by DarkOne » Sat Feb 10, 14:14 2018

Just out of curiosity, what exactly did the letter from the medical professional need to include under the previous rules?
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Re: airlines and service animals

Post by MFS » Mon Feb 12, 16:42 2018

I want my emotional support zebra on the plane, damnit
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