The growth of the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) as a legitimate treatment option is definitely increasing, but are people taking advantage of it? There is no doubt about the healing power that animals can bring to some people – today’s science is just telling us what we have already intuitively known. Here at Certapet, we work with therapists that focus on evidence based behavioral practice, and in practice, people try to passing off some incredibly odd animals as ESAs. Perhaps other mental health professionals are less stringent with the animals they are willing to recommend.
It’s no longer an unusual occurrence to see someone flying with a dog as an emotional support animal. It happens every day on flights all around the world. What about more “unique” emotional support animals? Check out this list of the strangest animals that we found others have used for emotional support.
An Impolite Pig
As if the deplorable conditions on most modern flights weren’t enough, imagine getting on a plane that is hot and stuffy and finding yourself next to a pig. This is exactly the situation that many passengers found themselves in the day before Thanksgiving on a fateful US Airways flight.
The name of the pig was Hobie, and this was no little animal. The full-grown pig was carried onto the flight, apparently past the airline security, for only a little while before the owner was asked to exit the aircraft. However, the owner was only asked to exit because the pig was misbehaving, not because of any rule broken by bringing a pig on the plane in the first place. After the incident, some of the passengers on the flight commented that the owner of the pig was actually talking to the pig “like a person, saying it was being a jerk.”
Flying with a Dog? Ok. What about a Turkey?
Turkeys have definitely made a name for themselves as a comfort food. [Side note: The tryptophan in turkeys is a natural sedative that calms the body, perhaps giving the food a bit of its reputation as a comfort.] However, the comfort that someone’s pet turkey was giving them became quite the problem on a Delta flight coming out of San Francisco one day. Unlike the pig mentioned above, however, neither the turkey nor its owner were asked to leave the flight. Apparently, the turkey was quite well behaved, and completed the flight without any negative incident.
This turkey seemed to fly without incident, but what if someone was flying with a dog as an Emotional Support Animal? Surely this would make an eventful flight. The dog owner would be responsible for maintaining control of their ESA, but this seems like the setup for a bad comedy scene.
Flying Tortoise Wins the Race
Usually the story goes that the tortoise beats the hare using a slow and steady pace. That doesn’t seem to be the case with this Emotional Support Animal. Xena, a 15 pound Sulcata tortoise, actually gained more flight mileage than at least 20% of the population of the United States when it boarded two flights as an Emotional Support Animal. This is surprising considering that tortoises actually have a bigger reputation for aggressiveness then either pigs or turkeys. People do not think of tortoises as an aggressive animal, but they can actually weigh up to 200 pounds and become quite upset if disturbed in any way. However, the tortoise Xena apparently is making a career out of supporting its owner on flights.
My Little Pony Horse
Dan Shaw is the proud owner of Cuddles, a 2 foot tall pygmy horse. Cuddles is actually a Guide Horse for Dan Shaw, providing many of the same services you would associate with a Seeing Eye Dog. Dan suffers from a degenerative eye disease that left him with little vision in either eye. His trusty companion, Cuddles, now travels by his side wherever he goes. This includes airline flights.
Apparently, Dan was traveling with the miniature service horse sitting in seat 3A on an American Airlines flight when an incident occurred. The horse actually had a bowel movement on the carpet in the middle of the flight, as horses are prone to do when they become upset or nervous. However, Dan did not have to deal with any of the negative repercussions of Cuddles – the job of cleaning the mess was left to the airline staff.
The bowel movement was so strong that the entire plane had to be aired out before it could leave on the next flight. The airplane also required a professional deep cleaning in order to get rid of the stains and other evidence that a miniature horse had been on the flight.
CertaPet: Helping Others
We at Certapet are in the business of helping to recommend ESAs for our qualifying clients; however, we definitely have an issue with some of the choices that our colleagues made above! When you come to us for a recommendation for an ESA, expect us to use evidence-based behavioral practices. We have built our reputation around providing the best service in the industry for our clients and keeping them safe regarding compliance laws that society sets forth, written or unwritten.
When we recommend an animal to you as an ESA, you can reasonably expect that animal to help alleviate the symptoms associated with many mental health disabilities. We back up our recommendations with hard research and case studies that we can present to any naysayer. This is why we will never end up in any of the situations that you have just read about above!
If you have tried medication or other more “traditional” techniques for your mental conditions without a success, then you may want to consider if you would benefit from an ESA animal. Come to us for the best research and recommendations that the industry has to offer. We pride ourselves on providing you with the best information about your mental health condition and the relief that you can expect from an emotional support system. Give us a call or an email when you want to expand your treatment options into a world of new possibilities with extraordinary results. Take the natural healing power of animals and expand your ability to heal yourself with the power of an ESA. We’ll have you flying with a dog or cat in no time!
All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.