That Pig Is My Support Animal

Approximately, 100,000 animals, from dogs to pigs and even turkeys travel in airline cabins each year as emotional support animals. Their owners claim these animals or pets, must travel with them for psychological assistance throughout the flight.

Some however, are calling foul and asking for more stringent controls and policies on the species that are allowed into the cabin. The claim is that a rule on special needs is being exploited by some fliers to avoid having to pay the usual $75 fee to put their animals in cargo.

In 2016, the Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation – which includes, The Department of Transportation, airlines, and disability advocacy groups – was established to come up with a proposed rule concerning air travelers with disabilities and their service animals. In addition, the Service Animal Working Group was set up to determine if the definition of ‘service animals’ accompanying passengers with a disability on a flight, needed amending.

Currently the 1996 Department of Transport guidance document defines a service animal as: ‘Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.’ However, incidents such as the November 2014 incident where a pig, identified by its owner as a support animal, and its owner were escorted from a flight because it had been squealing uncontrollably and had defecated on the floor.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the rules and definitions need to be revamped? Do you think people are abusing the system? Let me know on twitter @travelculturati or facebook @travelingculturati.




    April 24th

    It has gone past ridiculous. Once I heard two friends laughing about how she had gamed the system by saying her cats was a support animal. I agree there are those of us who have allergies, do we have any rights anymore. Enough is enough, unless the person can show that they truly are in need, such as a seeing eye dog, or one who can determine when a person is about to have a seizure, these animals should not be allowed on a plane. Then there is the added factor of safety in the event of an emergency. You don’t want to think about it, but it’s always a possibility.

  2. Pamela Moorr
    April 24th

    I think animals in the cabin are an absolutely ridiculous idea. No one seems to question about people who have animal hair allergies. If these animals are allowed on planes, the pet parent needs to produce documentation that specifically addresses the need for the animal on a plane. I for one refuse to sit next to a person traveling with an animal. We have had many feet changes due to my allergies to pet hair. We are forced to produce proof of who we are etc. just to board an airplane. People with pets should also have to produce the same.