Swine Flew – Emotions Run High

By | December 1, 2014

An emotional support pig was kicked off a US Airways flight for being disruptive. The large brown pig allegedly stank up the aircraft before defecating in the aisle.

Emotional support animals have become an increasingly common thing, especially since the DOT ruled that emotional support animals qualify as service animals.

There are legitimate emotional support animals, however, the definition is so loose that many people use it as a way to get beloved pets in places where they otherwise would not be permitted, or to avoid the charges airlines levy for the transport of pets.

In fact, many online organizations will provide registration cards and other materials with no actual requirement other than paying a fee, and are recognized by no government agency, which just muddies the waters. In 2013, the National Service Animal Registry, an organization that sells certificates, vests, and badges signed up 11,000 support animals. You don’t even have to have a doctor’s note.

Most airlines do require a letter, but those same organizations will find professionals who will certify, even over the phone and are of questionable value. Most people fear the fines for violating the laws regarding service animals, they cannot even question the legitimacy of the claim under the law.

For the record, we’re not saying the woman who brought the pig onboard the aircraft was legitimate or otherwise. We don’t know, although a defecating pig seems to be somewhere where a line might drawn.

Regardless, we do think that the government should start a trustworthy certification program for service and emotional support animals. Because clearly the lack of standards is to the detriment of those with legitimate need and the rest of us.