An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that a medical professional has determined provides benefit for an individual with a disability. This may include improving at least one symptom of the disability. Emotional support animals, typically dogs, but sometimes cats or other animals, may be used by people with a range of physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disabilities. In order to be prescribed an emotional support animal the person seeking such an animal must have a verifiable disability. To be afforded protection under United States federal law, a person must meet the federal definition of disability and must have a note from a physician or other medical professional stating that the person has that disability and that the emotional support animal provides a benefit for the individual with the disability. An animal does not need specific training to become an emotional support animal.
The Air Carrier Access Act establishes a procedure for modifying pet policies on aircraft to permit a person with a disability to travel with a prescribed emotional support animal, so long as they have appropriate documentation and the animal is not a danger to others and does not interfere with others (through unwanted attention, barking, inappropriate toileting, etc.
Want to travel with an emotional support dog, duck or miniature horse? Starting next month, United Airlines will want passengers to show they can behave.
The airline is setting more stringent requirements for emotional support animals, joining Delta Air Lines in cracking down on a sharp increase in such animals in the cabin. Delta complained that some of the animals soiled cabins or bit travelers.
United said the number of customers bringing emotional support animals on board has risen 75 percent over the past year.
“The Department of Transportation’s rules regarding emotional support animals are not working as they were intended to, prompting us to change our approach in order to ensure a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers,” United said.
Late last month, a Brooklyn artist tried to bring a peacock on board a cross-country United flight, but was turned away by the airline because of the bird’s weight and size.
“As a reminder, animals currently prohibited from traveling in the cabin include hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles, sugar gliders, non-household birds, exotic animals and animals not properly cleaned or carry a foul odor,” said United.
The animals below are not on the prohibited list.
Last 2 images above courtesy of Markozen photoshop.