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Flight Attendants Warn About “Fake” Service Animals

Dogs, geese and small horses have been allowed to fly under “service animal” exemptions.

Flight attendants and service animal trainers are asking flyers to consider their need for a “service animal” before applying for an exemption for their four-legged companions. Charlotte television station WSOC-TV reports that attendants and lawmakers are asking for flyers to leave pets in their carriers or at home, instead of passing them off as service animals.

In many situations, service animals can assist flyers who contend with medical conditions while they travel. However, not all animals fulfill a medical need, yet are allowed to pass through because of documentation or the wearing of a service vest.

“We’ve gotten reports of animals on board, anything from a pig to a rooster to a goose,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told WSOC. “And those animals have gotten loose, they have been racing all over the cabin.”

Flight attendants are not the only ones who claim to be affected by service animal issues. As illustrated by a recent incident involving a veteran flying with a service animal, lawmakers say that fake animals can have consequences for everyone involved.

“Every time you fake a service animal, you’re injuring a real veteran or non-veteran,” Florida state Rep. Jimmie T. Smith told the television station.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are defined as those who are “individually trained to work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” Although miniature horses are also covered under ADA, both sides are asking flyers to self-regulate their animals, to ensure only actual service animals board commercial aircraft.

“When you let any dog on and don’t ask the proper questions, what you’re doing sometimes is denigrating or hurting those soldiers or people with special needs who truly do need the dog,” dog trainer Charlie Petrizzo told WSOC.

[Photo: Alyssa Ramos]

Comments are Closed.
weero November 16, 2016

What do service animals and ESAs have to do with veterans? That's one creepy stretch. And why are should dogs and Eohippi be ok but not pigs and vultures? Feels and emotions are the new reals. If we want to accept ESAs at all then the distinction between proper certified ones and mere pets is near immaterial. And that one cannot allow airlines to enforce state regulations on interstate travel is also fairly obvious. With ESA provisions in place, this cannot be resolved meaningfully. And maybe it doesn't have to. Dogs are here to stay and most other animals pose a much lesser danger to humans.

rthib November 14, 2016

"Airlines don’t (for the most part) charge passengers that amount to carry on a piece of luggage?" For the same reason hotels don't charge you extra to bring you luggage but do for pets. Last time I checked my luggage doesn't: Pee, Shed, Barf, Smell, Bark, Mew etc... Do all pets do this, no - but the price is built in for the extra cleaning and care required when a pet is in the cabin.

muellerd November 11, 2016

In California, maybe elsewhere, the animal owner must verify: 1. The animal has had training to aid with a disability. 2. The owner must have that disability. Failure to do so while claiming service animal status is punishable by fine and/or jail time.

TomRI November 11, 2016

Let the FAA regulate them. Each animal needs a License (just like every city town regulates these same animals) If you don't want to pay for the license then they are CARGO. As part of the license fee to the FAA they must 1.Submit and document the animal has ALL it's shots (recertification will be necessary) from a LICENSED Vet. 2. Provide proof from a LICENSED therapist that they need the animal for emotional support and for HOW LONG. 3. Provide picture Id for the person and the animal with dates of births for both. 4. Licenses will be good for only ONE year.

m44 November 10, 2016

The system is rigged. Why the airline is not charging $100 for the case containing junk, but charges for the same size case containing small animal? This is what is causing people to fake. Why people who have allergies do not take their medications, and falsely claim an attack inside the airplane where the air is fully exchanged and filtered north of 30 times per hour, i.e. every 2 minutes the whole cabin air is exchanged. If it wasn't we all would have died from methane emissions of the fellow passengers. And after all why there is a limit on number of small animals on the airplane - legends and rationalizations of brainless people. Show me real data.