Why Your Emotional Support Squirrel Is on the No-Fly List

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image of an emotional support squirrel standing up

Squirrels are adorable, who could resist them? Some people love these animals so much they have gotten an emotional support squirrel. But keeping the fluffy rodents as ESAs isn’t quite straightforward. Did you know virtually all airlines don’t allow them on board of commercial flights? Or that not all landlords accept squirrels in rented housing? Keep reading to learn all about these intriguing animal companions!

A Cautionary Tale About an Emotional Support Squirrel on a Frontier Airlines Flight

In October 2018, a passenger tried to take her emotional support squirrel with her on a Frontier Airlines flight. She told the airline she would travel with an ESA, but did not specify what kind of animal it was. However, she did not read the Frontier Airlines ESA policy very closely.

The woman had already boarded the plane when a flight attendant spotted a cage. In it was a small squirrel, which airline employees had not been aware of previously. She was asked to leave the aircraft, as squirrels can’t fly in-cabin. When she refused, the police were called and ended up taking her away.

There are many problems with this incident. It certainly changed how American airlines see emotional support animals. We’ll go over the reasons why this squirrel couldn’t fly in a moment.

The World Needs Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals (ESAs)are true superheroes. They help people with a mental health disorder cope with their condition and live a normal day-to-day life.

By offering support and affection, ESAs change their owners’ lives. Coping with anxiety, depression, and other disabilities becomes much easier. That’s why licensed mental health professionals prescribe ESAs to their patients!

All You Need Is an ESA Letter

Before getting an ESA by your side, you need an emotional support animal letter. This document proves your furry companion isn’t a pet. Rather, they’re ESAs with rights not available to pets.

This is especially important if you want to live with your companion in rented housing or want to take them on a flight. Only a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) on your state can issue this document.

young boy lying on ground feeding pet squirrel

Understanding the Laws that Protect ESAs

Emotional support animals are covered by two ironclad federal laws. This gives them the right to live with their owners and to travel by plane with them.

Do keep in mind, though, that ESAs don’t have the same rights as service animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t apply to ESAs. That’s why you can’t just walk into a public place that isn’t pet-friendly with your furry friend.

Also, as a side note, ESAs are very different from therapy animals. They have different tasks and, thus, enjoy different privileges.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

Want to live with your ESA in a rented unit? Luckily, you can! The Fair Housing Act (FHA) gives renters with a mental health disability the right to live with their companion animals. This applies to virtually all rented properties—regardless of them having a pet-friendly policy or not. And the best part? Your landlord can’t charge you a pet fee!

The FHA doesn’t always cover an emotional support squirrel. In many cities, they’re considered exotic pets, meaning they’re banned from some ordinance zones.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

If you want to bring your ESA on a flight, you can. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) says airlines must provide “reasonable accommodation” to ESAs in the cabin. This means Fido or Mittens could travel at your feet the next time you take off. Oh, and you won’t have to pay any pet fees!

Once again, the ACAA won’t cover an emotional support squirrel. Each airline has its animal policy. Exotic animals and rodents (such as squirrels) are usually on the no-fly list. The Department of Transportation (DOT) doesn’t even require airlines to transport ESA squirrels, not even if they have all the right documents.

A Look at the Frontier Airlines Pet Policy

Looking at the Frontier Airlines Pet Policy, one thing is very obvious: squirrels are on the no-fly list. This means you can’t bring an emotional support or pet squirrel on board with you. After all the social media confusion and commotion over that lady’s emotional support squirrel, can you blame them?

Emotional Support Animal Restrictions on Frontier Flights

There is a separate Frontier Airlines ESA Policy. Even that document bans unusual animals from the cabin, even if they’re ESAs with all the right documents. You won’t find an emotional support squirrel or kangaroo aboard, that’s for sure!

person feeding squirrel nuts

The Airline Has the Final Say

As always, all airlines have the final word. If they don’t have your ESA on their “fly” list, your friendly companion isn’t going anywhere.

Once again, we want to highlight that service animals are a completely different story. The Department of Transportation now allows service miniature horses in the cabin of domestic flights. But that’s the only exception to the rules!

Flying Frontier with an Emotional Support Squirrel Is a No-Go!

Let’s stress this one more time: flying with an emotional support squirrel is off the table. That’s true for Frontier Airlines and most major airlines in North America. There’s no going around that.

Common Airline ESA Breed and Species Restrictions

As you can imagine, not all types of animals and species are allowed onboard. Not in business, not in coach, not in economy. Rats, pet horses, snakes, large birds, and most rodents won’t see the inside of a commercial aircraft—at least not for now.

A Squirrel Can’t Fly Frontier, But Dogs and Cats Can!

You’ll find that all airlines allow dogs and cats inside their planes. Both pets and emotional support animals! As long as you have all the forms needed, you’re good to go. It is a hassle-free process.

Before Buying that Ticket: Read the Airline’s ESA Policy!

Since it’s better to be safe than sorry, you should always check with the airline before booking your trip. Ask them if they will welcome your emotional support animal. What documents will you need to board the plane with them? Come prepared!

person feeding squirrel hanging in tree

Why Dogs and Cats Make the Best ESAs

Dogs and cats are awesome. But they’re not the only good animal companions! Hamsters, horses, pigs, and other “strange” ESAs can make their owners just as happy. The power of animal-assisted therapy is real!

Yet, you’ll find it much easier to have a dog or cat as your ESA. Primarily because landlords and airlines generally don’t mind them. It’s a whole other story when we talk of unusual and exotic ESAs.

In short, for the sake of convenience, get an emotional support dog or cat. It’ll make the bureaucracies associated with traveling and living with them much easier.

CertaPet LMHPs Say Dogs, Cats, and the Occasional Bunnies!

Because of all the things we’ve already mentioned, getting an emotional support dog or cat is a great idea. Getting a bunny to be your support buddy also isn’t a bad idea.

CertaPet’s licensed mental health professionals recommend getting one of these three animals to be your pal. Plus, they only issue emotional support letters endorsing the use of these species.

CertaPet Makes the Process of Getting an Emotional Support Letter Very Simple!

If you live with a mental or emotional disability, it may be a good idea to get an ESA. Luckily, we’ve made this process much easier and hassle-free.

You can start by taking our 5-minute pre-screening test for free. We’ll look at your answers and connect you with a licensed mental health professional. They’ll be the ones issuing your ESA letter if you qualify for one. In less than a month, you could be holding your sweet, sweet support buddy in your arms!

Common Questions on Emotional Support Squirrels

Can a squirrel become an emotional support animal?

Are squirrels welcome on domestic flights?

Can I travel by plane with my emotional support animal?

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