Recently, a woman tried to bring a peacock on board a commercial flight, saying it was her therapeutic “emotional support” animal.
Whatever happened to carrying a rabbit’s foot?
Because people always take things too far, the airline industry and the U.S. Department of Transportation have begun tightening their rules on what should be allowed to serve as a support animal.
Passengers have trotted out snakes, spiders, pigs, turkeys. You name it. Some therapy professionals are calling bull (no pun intended), arguing that dogs are the only animals capable of being trained to perform such a service.
Not even Dr. Dootlittle would buy what some folks are trying to pass off as therapeutic pets.
We are descendants of people who survived the Middle Passage, the Mayflower and wagon trains.
When did we get to be this country?
How did the America that won two world wars and landed men on the moon become a nation of over-medicated monkey-huggers?
I know I’m not a doctor, and I’m not trying to be dismissive or cruel purposefully. I’m just saying that a person who needs to cuddle with a peacock to keep calm probably shouldn’t want to be 30,000 feet in the air in a tin can going 600 miles an hour.
I really do get it. The idea of entrusting your life to a pilot, someone you’ve never met, whose state of mind you know nothing about, whose skills you have to take on faith, is a scary proposition.
But there’s comfort to be found in the math. Flying is the safest mode of public transportation in existence.
Even so, I, too, am a white-knuckle flyer, but having a “comfort panther” in the next seat isn’t going to make me feel any better about it.
Flying with two-legged creatures is stressful enough. Practically every airline story of late seems to include a “fight-club” element, from passengers squabbling over politics, to getting bumped from overcrowded flights.
And heaven help anyone speaking a foreign language or wearing a hijab.
Questioning the use of emotional support animals isn’t a knock on people diagnosed with genuine medical issues, and it certainly isn’t a criticism of legitimate service animals, particularly guide dogs, who always behave better than everyone else.
The problem: The definition of “legitimate” is being stretched like Silly Putty. There are ads on the internet guaranteeing that you can get any animal designated as such in a snap.
Certainly, this could not have been what the Department of Transportation had in mind when it starting permitting passengers to bring emotional support animals aboard a public vehicle where space is severely limited.
Passengers have a right to feel safe on their flights. No one should have to defend themselves against a boa constrictor and a congressional lobbyist who’s had one too many.
Perhaps the airlines should get together and designate one flight a day for everyone who wants to fly with a comfort critter. It can be like a modern-day version of Noah’s Ark.
But there’s a reason Noah got blackout drunk after the ship ran aground.
Peacocks, by the way, can be “mean girls,” especially where there’s food involved.
Imagine the fun to be had on an airplane when the snack cart comes around.
— Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org