Actually, I just need to read stories about emotional support animals, they tickle me.
It’s been an emotional week in the Household, what with the youngest starting high school, the dead possum in the ceiling, the blow flies circling my head, opening my latest VISA bill and the eldest wanting to change schools. I cried the whole way through peeling and cutting potatoes to make chips for dinner last night. And that was before I heard another possum scrabbling above me.
Far out its exhausting being resilient.
So it came as a welcome surprise to see a story in my Facebook newsfeed about a woman trying to take her emotional support peacock on a United Airlines flight.
The woman turned up at Newark Airport with the peacock – and a ticket for it – but wasn’t allowed to board.
A spokesperson for United further told Fox News: “This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.”
United’s move follows Delta airlines announcing it was introducing restrictions on emotional support animals in hopes of curbing abuse of policy and an 84 percent increase in adverse animal behavior such as urinating, defecating, biting and attacks on flights.
Effective March 1, Delta’s new rules require anyone flying with emotional support or psychiatric service animals to submit a veterinarian health form and immunization record with 48-hours’ notice. A doctor’s note, signed veterinarian health form and proof of animal training will additionally now have to be presented before boarding.
And Delta will no longer allow exotic emotional support animals including ferrets, insects, spiders, goats or animals with tusks or hooves to fly.
United has confirmed it is also reevaluating its current support animal policies.
“United is dedicated to providing convenient and comfortable service to all of our customers. We know that some customers require an emotional support animal to assist them through their journey. In order to ensure we provide the best service to everyone onboard our flights, consistent with government rules we currently require these customers to provide documentation from a medical professional and at least 48 hours advance notice,” United said via email.
It reminds me of a hilarious article I read in The New Yorker a few years back by Patricia Marx, who set out to see how many places she could take emotional support animals including a turtle, llama, snake, turkey and pig.
“An alpaca looks so much like a big stuffed animal that if you walked around F.A.O. Schwarz with one nobody would notice.
“What if you tried to buy a ticket for one on an Amtrak train? The alpaca in question was four and a half feet tall, weighed a hundred and five pounds, and had a Don King haircut. My mission: to take her on a train trip from Hudson, New York, to Niagara Falls.
“Ma’am, you can’t take that,” a ticket agent at the Hudson station drawled, in the casual manner in which you might say, “No flip-flops on the tennis court.”
“It’s a therapy animal. I have a letter.”
“OK,” she said flatly. “That’s a first.”
And then …
Carry a baby down the aisle of an airplane and passengers look at you as if you were toting a machine gun. Imagine, then, what it’s like travelling with a one-year-old pig who oinks, grunts, and screams, and who, at twenty-six pounds, is six pounds heavier than the average carry-on baggage allowance and would barely fit in the overhead compartment of the aircraft that she and I took from Newark to Boston. Or maybe you can’t imagine this.
During check-in, the ticket agent, looking up to ask my final destination, did a double take.
She said, “Oh . . . have you checked with . . . I don’t think JetBlue allows . . .”
I rehashed my spiel about the letter and explained that days ago, when I bought the tickets, the service representative said that I could bring Daphne, my pig, as long as she sat on my lap.
“Give me one second,” the agent said, picking up the phone. “I’m checking with my supervisor.” (Speaking into phone: “Yes, with a pig . . . yeah, yeah . . . in a stroller.”) The agent hung up and printed out boarding passes for me and the pig’s owner, Sophie Wolf.
“I didn’t want to make a mistake,” he said. “If there’s a problem, Verna, at the gate, will help you. Does she run fast?”
I’m pleased to report that passing through security with a pig in your arms is easier than doing so without one: you get to keep your shoes on and skip the full-body scanner.
Actually, I’ve just remembered why I don’t want an emotional support animal. I’ve had a disturbing flashback to when Charlie was a puppy and I used to take him to work each day at Mamamia. He HATED being in the carrier and would howl the bus down the whole way there and back. One day I got off the bus four stops early just to put a stop to the public humiliation.
Though it was a handy way to meet cute men … wanna pat my puppy …?
If you could have an emotional support animal, what would you choose?
Song of the day: Fleetwood Mac “Hold me”