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When Pigs Fly: Should Service Animals be Allowed on Planes?

The American Department of Transportation is considering new guidelines which could allow disabled people to fly on planes with pigs, monkeys and miniature horses for “emotional support.” Would you feel comfortable traveling with live animals?

In the future, you may have to get used to sharing an armrest or row with airline passengers who act like they belong in a zoo – literally.

The US Department of Transportation is considering new standards of flight travel for disabled people, which would allow ‘service animals’ like pot-bellied pigs, miniature horses and monkeys to travel with their owners for ‘emotional support.’

The “service animals” could be allowed to board flights with their owners, so long as they meet certain requirements, including training, service animal verification and can behave appropriately on an aircraft without taking up additional room. The owner must also provide a “relief area” for the animal, the manual states.

Cases would be handled individually by the flight staff and not all “service animals” would be allowed – including ferrets, spiders and snakes.

Pot-bellied pigs have the mental capacity of a human 4-year-old, can open doors and can be litter-box trained. Miniature horses are valued for their long lifespan and are good with the visually impaired; monkeys are easy to train to do a variety of tasks.

These mandates are proposed in the Department of Travel’s Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Draft Technical Assistance Manual. The proposal is open for public comment until October.

Andrea July 16, 2012 at 11:24 PM
They would probably be safer and better behaved than some human passengers!
Jawbone Kent July 16, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Dogs only! Gotta draw the line somewhere.. I mean horses? Come on people.. Charge a very steep fee and just maybe they'll get off the "What about Me Train" or Plane.. I mean really, if your disabled and must have a Service Ani mal to keep you at peace, then try a different mode of transportation that won't put hundreds at risk if your Service Animal goes berserk.
Lauren Padgett July 16, 2012 at 11:48 PM
What upsets me is the idea that I can't bring my snow globe on the plane, but the person next to me can snuggle up with an awesome mini horse! Something is wrong with that picture... And you're right about the peeing, Carla... even if owners are supposed to provide their own waste receptacles it still doesn't seem sanitary OR practical on a plane...
sally July 17, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I would take a monkey or mini horse over a drunken passenger any day!! At the horse, the pig & the monkey won't complain about carry on bags. They won't try and use their cell phones. I bet their manners are better than 90% of regular passengers.
Chuck July 20, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I think its ridiculous. I feel sorry for the disabled folks such as the blind and deaf folks who use trained dogs to assist them, because the use of so called "service dogs" or service animals has skyrocketed, and I think the use and over use for such things as 'emotional comfort' has cheapened the original intent. I've seen a young guy in a restaurant with an iguana on his shoulder, claiming that it was his "service animal". It's worse than medical marijuana cards and the claim of "medicine" for every known ailment known to mankind-- but at least you do have to visit some sort of doctor to get one. The claim of service dogs currently doesnt even require proof as far as I know. You can buy those vests, leashes and ID cards on the internet without any proof or doctor's recommendation. Just a cheap way of getting your pet into restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, beaches and anywhere else dogs are prohibited, because no one wants to challenge the ADA and get sued for being mean to a possibly disabled person. The sellers of these items even allude to that in their ads. Just like the overuse of handicapped parking placards- get a easy going doctor or chiropractor to write a recommendation, and you got yourself some free and premium parking. Don't know if this is as big a problem in your area, Lauren, but down here in Calif, its epidemic.

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