Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fake Support Animals Hurting Trained Ones

Are passengers flying with legit, or phony, support animals?
Linda Loyd
FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Airlines are seeing more animals in cabins of planes. Owners can buy medical certificates and service-animal vests online for as little as $40 and avoid airline fees, which can be $75 to $125 each way, for pets to travel.
Daniel, an emotional support animal, on a flight to Asheville, N.C. in October. The duck's owner suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after a 2013 accident. The flight was the owner Carla Fitzgerald's first since the accident, and she brought the duck along for support.
A Chihuahua in a handbag at 30,000 feet.

A marmoset monkey peering out of his owner’s shirt as a Frontier Airlines jet lands in Las Vegas.

A potbellied pig waiting at the gate to board a Delta Air Lines flight in Boston.

Next time you fly, you may encounter an unusual passenger in the next seat. Turkeys, rabbits, roosters, ducks, and geese are legally allowed in the cabins of airplanes as “emotional-support animals.” Owners need only a note from a licensed medical professional — which can be bought online — that the companion animal is needed for emotional and psychological well-being.
“The bottom line is it’s a bad situation,” said Doug Lavin, vice president of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 269 airlines around the world. “The numbers are quite high — in a six-month period from November 2015 to April 2016, one major carrier had 82,000 service animals, of which 54,694 were emotional-support animals.”

“There is a good amount of fraud,” Lavin said. “If you go online, you can find sites and order, for a small fee, a letter from a licensed professional that says you need to bring your potbellied pig on the plane."
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