Should there be limits when it comes to emotional support and service animals in public places? United Airlines has decided to draw a line at peacocks.
As Fox News reports, a woman flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport showed up ready to board her flight along with her emotional support animal — an adult peacock.
The woman claimed she had bought a ticket for the peacock, but United refused to let the bird board, regardless of the support it provided its owner. A spokesperson for the airline told Fox News in a statement:
This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.
Beautiful plumage aside, size isn’t the only reason you might not want to share a flight with a peacock. According to National Geographic, peacocks “can be testy and do not mix well with other domestic birds.”
The Jet Set page shared photos of the peacock and its owner on Facebook, where commenters weighed in with their thoughts on emotional support and service animals.
While most agreed that expecting to board with a peacock was completely absurd, several people pointed out that this is part of a bigger issue surrounding the rules of what animals should be allowed on flights and in other public places.
In fact, airlines are currently struggling to determine which animals should be allowed under the “emotional support” category. Delta Air Lines says they have seen attempts to bring turkeys, possums, spiders, and snakes onto flights. The carrier has also had an 84 percent increase in animal incidents and complaints from employees about aggressive behavior — including biting — from service and support animals.
In response, Delta changed its rules for emotional support and service animals. Those traveling with trained service animals are now required to submit a veterinary health form and immunization record 48 hours before the flight. If you want to bring an emotional support animal on your Delta flight, you must provide the same records, along with a request form, a letter signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional, and a Confirmation of Animal Training form.
On the company’s website, a Delta Senior Vice President explained that the new rules were about maintaining the safety and comfort of all passengers and staff:
“The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel. As a leader in safety, we worked with our Advisory Board on Disability to find a solution that supports those customers with a legitimate need for these animals, while prioritizing a safe and consistent travel experience.”
What do you think? Should airlines and other public places embrace stricter rules about service and emotional support animals?