Update: This post tends to show up in search results higher than my more recent
articles rants about pieces of shit abusing the emotional support animal system. If you're interested, you can read those articles here:
A new hope (from Delta)
The (emotional support animal) empire strikes back
And now on to the original
Ever the diplomat, One Mile at a Time has a fairly neutrally-toned article about the DOT's plan to look into whether they should consider discussing the possibility of forming a committee to investigate regulating emotional support animals on planes. Me, I'll just come right out and say it: you're a piece of shit who deserves to wind up on the no-fly list if you take a fake ESA onto a plane.
Now, before you paint me as some heartless asshole... First, I said "fake" in the title of this post. Someone who needs a support animal - and I mean legitimately needs (not just who wants one because it makes them feel a little better) - should be allowed to have one, provided that animal has received training from an accredited training program. Plus, I'm probably more sensitive than most to emotional needs while traveling given that I have a phobia of flying that I have had to learn how to manage in order to avoid the alternative of driving everywhere I go. So I know what it's like to have a four-hour panic attack on a plane. I know what it's like to feel so claustrophobic in-flight that you think you're having a heart attack. I've been there, multiple times. And if I legitimately thought that carrying my dog onto the plane would help me deal with flying, I would do it. I'm one of those dog owners who considers their dog to be a real child, and I would love to bring her on vacation with me. She's the best dog ever. Here, I'll show you:
The reason I would never smuggle her onto a plane as an ESA has to do with the following:
- I'm oversensitive to people acting entitled to take their dogs everywhere after living in San Francisco, where I've literally seen pets licking produce at Whole Foods while their owners look at their phones. Having a pet sometimes requires leaving the pet in the car (not in the sun, duh), or at home. Deal.
- Service animals (which are different from ESAs) are trained to operate in spaces WITHOUT other animals. A guide dog guiding a blind person through the subway is not trained to deal with encountering 50 other dogs on her way. You know those people that have disabilities and actually NEED those animals with them at all time? Well your privileged, entitled ass is making their life more difficult.
- Having a disability sucks, which is why differently abled people get various concessions designed to make their lives easier to manage. Do you walk around with sunglasses and a cane so people move out of your way? Do you park in disabled parking spaces because you have a placard left over from when you broke your ankle? I'm guessing not, because pretending you have a disability when you don't in order to take advantage of a particular concession is some next-level amoral bullshit. Why people seem to conveniently forget this when it involves their special little poochie-woochie is a mystery to me.
- Your dog probably isn't that well behaved, which makes it that much worse. I've had pit bulls jump up on me (nothing against pit bulls; they're cute as fuck but I don't really want them slobbering on me while I'm trying to chow down on a Cinnabon), little dogs yap at me, and I can't imagine what I'd do if a filthy duck was walking around the aisle of a plane. And aside from the little inconveniences, did you stop to consider that other people on the plane might be stressed about about your animal getting in their face, and that you might make someone else's flight anxiety WORSE by bringing your stupid exotic pet with you?
- You're going to fuck it up for the people who actually need these animals. One of the reasons why the rule is so lax is that it's embarrassing to have to explain to every check-in agent, gate agent, TSA agent, cabin crew, etc that you have PTSD or agoraphobia, or claustrophobia, or whatever. Society is not kind to those who have even mild forms of mental illness (the amount of times someone has responded to my fear of flying with, "Well you know it's 1000x safer than driving," as if I never thought of that suggests as much), so letting people who need ESAs proceed unmolested is part and parcel of the concession offered those people who are suffering from mental illness. Your stupid untrained dog pissing on the floor of a Southwest flight is going to ruin it for everyone.
Okay, rant over. Obviously I feel strongly about this, so here's what I think should happen: ESAs should require an ID card, similar to Global Entry. To get the ID card, you need to apply online and pay a fee that would be reimbursed by your health insurance (unless you don't actually have a disability). You'd then need to have your ESA complete an accredited training course and show those documents along with vaccination records when you completed your application. If any of these steps were difficult for you to complete due to your disability, the DOT would make case workers available to help you. The costs of this would be funded by the application fee, and any overruns would be covered by all the extra money we're going to have as a result of all the great deals Trump is going to negotiate. Anyway, the end result of this is that you'd have to travel with your ESA ID in order to bring the animal on the plane. Requiring passengers to show the ID is no more of an imposition than requiring them to show their own ID, since the ESA ID wouldn't have any specific information about the patient or their specific emotional issue. Problem solved!
What do you think? I'm guessing that if you comment, you probably agree with me... since if you don't agree, I just called you a piece of shit.