As someone who has travelled the world with a beloved Cocker Spaniel, I can fully understand why people want travel with their pets, but when the definition of ‘pets’ includes pot-bellied pigs and miniature horses, I think we may be taking it just a tad too far – or are we?
According to a recent report in the British Daily Mail, the US Department of Transport (DOT) has filed a draft manual with the Federal Register on ‘equality for disabled people travelling on commercial passenger planes’ stating that animals should be allowed on all flights if they are used for ‘emotional support’.
The manual includes a list of guidelines for Transport Officers, who will determine whether an animal is an official ‘service animal’ or not, and give it permission to travel on the plane. To help the officers decide, various examples are listed in the manual including:
Example: “A passenger arrives at the gate accompanied by a pot-bellied pig. She claims the pot-bellied pig is her service animal. What should you do?”
Answer: “Generally, you must permit a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal. However, if you have a reasonable basis for questioning, you may ask for some verification.”
Result: “Finally, if you determine that the pot-bellied pig is a service animal, you must permit the service animal to accompany the passenger to her seat.”
U.S. based Airlines will also be required to offer “relief areas for service animals that accompany passengers with a disability” at terminal facilities they own, lease or control.
Regular travellers will be pleased to know that “unusual service animals” such as rodents, snakes, spiders and ferrets will not be given permission to travel in the cabin, but other “commonly used” service animals such as pot-bellied pigs, monkeys, and miniature horses can travel in the cabin, providing the animal “does not obstruct the aisle or present any safety issues”.
So it looks like pigs really might fly – in America at least!