10 October, 2018

Weekly ESA News Report October 10th: Emotional Support Squirrels and More!

emotional support dog with newsletterFrom emotional support squirrels to new airline policies coming into effect to the mystery of an ESA who’s lost her owners! Read on to learn about this week’s ESA News Round-Up!

Woman Brings her “Emotional Support Squirrel” Onboard a Frontier Aircraft – Chaos Ensues

Emotional support dogs and cats are there for their owners’ mental and/or emotionally disabled self. But a squirrel??

When a woman was booking her flight 1612 from Orlando to Cleveland, she notified the airline she was bringing her emotional support animal.

Good for her. You should always notify them.

Well, not to fast.

As the woman boarded the flight, her emotional support animal squirrel followed suit. And while Frontier has recently changed its policies that restrict any ESA that isn’t a cat or dog onto the plane, the changes don’t go into effect until November 1st 2018. With that being said, what the lady did next is inexcusable.

Any airline has a right to ban certain animals on the plane due to behavior, etc. So when they explained to the unidentified woman she was not allowed to have her squirrel onboard, she became a problem.

Refusing to leave and eventually giving some of the other passengers the middle finger, the emotional support “squirrel” owner had to be escort off the plane causing the flight to be delayed nearly two hours.

When people bring their peacocks, hamsters, snakes, squirrels, and more like creatures onto aircrafts as “emotional support animals”, it diminishes the real need for true ESAs. At CertaPet, we do not encourage exotic emotional support animals and we hope more airlines create stricter policies to help legitimate emotional support animals on board. 

If you feel you could benefit from an LEGIT emotional support animal, take the free, 5-minute pre-screening to see if you qualify. If so, we will put you in contact with a licensed mental health professional in your state.

Oh, and did we mention Frontier’s ESA Policy never allowed rodents of any kind to begin with?

Emotional Support Animal’s Owner Missing in Florida

A strange case of a pet missing its owner occurred in Florida this week. Florida man Laurence Moser was driving near Miami Airport when he spotted a dog in an emotional support animal vest and a lead, walking alone next to a nearby canal.

ESA Lilly is looking for her owners

Image Source: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article219397405.html

Moser pulled over, thinking something had happened to the dog’s owner and called 911. Police and Fire Rescue searched the canal and surrounding area but found no sign of the owner.

The dog, a terrier mix, was wearing a red ESA vest when found. However, it had no other identification on it which could assist in locating more information to find the owner.

Miami-Dade animal services custody is now holding the lost pet, where staff have named her Lily. She is not currently up for adoption, animals services officers stating they want to give the dog’s owner more time to come forward to claim the pet.

The Chief of Shelter operations, Kathleen R. Labrada, said while there is no way to confirm if Lily is a service dog, it was definitely unusual for service animals to show up as strays.

“These dogs provide a valuable service to their owners and would certainly be missed,” she said.

The shelter staff and Moser are hopeful that the terrier mixes’ owner will come forward to claim her soon.

Alaska Airlines’ New ESA Policy Comes into Effect

Alaska Airlines’ new ESA policy came into effect last week, with stricter rules across the board for those traveling with emotional support animals.

The change comes as more airlines bulk up rules on which animals they permit to travel as ESAs. In recent years the number of passengers traveling with support animals has increased rapidly with the airline industry estimating an increase of approximately 57 percent between 2016 and 2017. According to ABC News, that’s 751,000 in the last year, up from 481,000 in the previous year.

As of October 1st, Alaska only allows dogs and cats on board as emotional support animals. This rule applies to all passengers – regardless of when they booked their flight. Alaska also permits the use of miniature horses – but only as service animals (this includes psychiatric animals). Miniature horses are not permitted on board as emotional support animals.

alaska airline esa policies

Other changes to policy include that Alaska now only allow one emotional support animal per person. Passengers traveling with an ESA must also provide documentation 48 hours in advance.

“Alaska is committed to providing accessible services to guests with disabilities and ensuring a safe environment for all flyers,” said Ray Prentice, Alaska Airlines’ director of customer advocacy. “We are making these changes now based on a number of recent incidents where the inappropriate behavior of emotional support animals has impacted and even injured our employees, other guests and service animals.”

Alaska anticipates that the new changes in policy will ensure safer and more comfortable flights for all passengers and crew.