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American grounds exotic therapy animals

American grounds exotic therapy animals

Sorry, your peacock cannot fly with us today. Neither can your hedgehog, goat or (insert other unusual emotional support animal here).

American Airlines became the latest major carrier to issue new rules to try to curtail abuse by passengers flying with nontraditional emotional support animals. Several major airlines have expanded their lists of animals banned from flying and developed and implemented new rules for passengers wanting to fly with approved animals.

Airlines are mandated by federal law to permit disabled passengers to travel with service and emotional support animals in the cabin. But the airlines can require documentation from a mental health professional about the necessity of the animal and a letter from the passenger pledging to the animal’s good behavior, including the animal’s ability to refrain from urinating or defecating on the plane.

The airlines have tightened regulations after a series of disruptive incidents related to emotional support animals, including other passengers being attacked and bitten by these supposedly docile creatures. In January, United Airlines denied a traveler’s attempt to bring her emotional support peacock on a flight departing Newark Liberty International Airport.

Starting July 1, American is adding amphibians, goats, hedgehogs, insects, nonhousehold birds and animals with tusks, horns or hooves to the list of those that can’t fly as service or support animals.

This writer is personally incredibly grateful that rodents, snakes and spiders don’t make the cut either.

But some good news for passengers wanting to take their emotional support equines to the skies: American will make an exception for your miniature horses, as long as they’re properly trained as service animals.


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