I am profoundly thankful for your editorial urging a more sane and consistent policy regarding emotional support animals on planes (“No more snakes on a plane, please,” Editorial, Feb. 7). However, the focus of the editorial — and the focus of the policies being adopted by some airlines — is that these animals be well trained. This is only one part of the problem. Even well-behaved animals can be the source of significant anxiety or allergies for other passengers.
I fully support policies that allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their service dogs, without hassle or delay. The emotional support pets are something else entirely, and it is becoming clear that the existing requirements for designating such animals are far too lax.
My family is about to embark on a trip with our adult autistic son, who is terrified of dogs and cats, among other animals. His anxiety can quickly escalate into self-injury and other behaviors that would probably alarm the crew and other passengers (and possibly get us put off the flight). With the proliferation of “support” animals on planes, we now have to notify the airline in advance to ask for the accommodation of having him seated where he would be unaware of the presence of an animal on the same flight.
Why should one person’s fear of flying be allowed to prevent those with other forms of phobia, or with allergies, from enjoying a safe flight? By the way, my son loves to fly; if you don’t, take the train (and leave your pet with a friend).
From both a personal and professional perspective, it was with great interest that I read the Feb. 7 editorial regarding the efforts underway to provide a more sensible process to allow animals to accompany their owners onto airplanes.
As a condominium property manager, I have witnessed more and more instances of individuals choosing to move into pet-free buildings with their emotional support animals. Most everyone is understanding and accepting of fully trained and purposed service animals, but residents are often less so of those people who they believe are employing the vague designation of “emotional support” to sidestep the association’s rules.
If one is to have compassion for the airline passengers who must endure various levels of discomfort for a flight of several hours, consider the anguish suffered by long-term residents who become subject to live in close proximity to an offensive animal 24/7 with no landing time in sight.
Lawyers have explained that “reasonable accommodation” must be made for people with emotional support pets. This ambiguous requirement unfortunately does not take into consideration the well-being of current residents who have specifically sought pet-free buildings as a haven because of their physical or emotional health issues.
Until the process to identify and certify emotional support animals is greatly improved, the abuses and subsequent resentments are most likely to increase accordingly.
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