Sunday, January 21, 2018

‘Come fly with me’ & an I.O.U. image

Can true pet lovers regard their pets as “comfort animals”?  I can.  Both Harry and Billy Summers seem to know when I’m down, for instance, and they’re there for me – at night sometimes, they’re both on the bed with me at the same time. That’s uncharacteristic.  And comforting.

They’re also my entrée to conversations with new people if the subject of pets comes up. Talking about the cats I love makes it easier going after that.  But: would Harry and/or Billy qualify as “official” emotional support animals to accompany me on airplane flights?   

Besides their dogs – much more predictable -- other people have claimed pigs, snakes, gliding possums and turkeys as their “comfort” or “emotional support animals” for purposes of their company on airline flights. And for some time now, airlines have allowed such animals to fly for free – as is also true with trained “service animals” like seeing-eye dogs. (Airline passengers must pay for “pets” to fly in cabins or cargo areas.)

However, more and more “comfort animals” have been claimed (some would say, to the point of the ridiculous).  And the number of negative incidents has grown – from animals urinating or defecating in the aisles to their biting nearby passengers. That plus the ease with which an “emotional support animal” can now be declared and accepted as such – has prompted airlines to reconsider the practice. This week, Delta Air Lines announced new requirements for service and support animals.

Starting March 1, Delta will require passengers to provide documentation for their animals within 48 hours of their flight. The company is thought to be focusing on emotional support animals, who make up more than two-thirds of the nearly 250,000 animals transported annually.       
Are more animal-dependent people flying these days, or are more people gaming the emotional support animal system?  Delta’s count after a year or so under the new regulations may tell the tale.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to a send-up on the subject of comfort animals that I enjoyed years ago and have saved since – for now!  In five separate very funny adventures, the writer tried, successfully, to pass off five different creatures as her emotional support animals, transporting them here and there to a variety of cultural and business sites in New York and Boston. 

She began with a 15-pound, 13-inch long turtle, named “Turtle,” and moved on to “Augustus,” a Mexican milk snake.  Next came a turkey, “Henry,” followed by “Sorpresa,” an alpaca (you read it right), and winding up with “Daphne,” a pig.  Her story even includes an exchange with philosopher-ethicist Peter Singer (Animal Liberation).

It doesn’t get much funnier than this piece of writing by someone I consider my own “emotional support writer.”

And now, the poster

My Jan. 8 post discussed the “Five Freedoms” for animals everywhere as the minimum standards for their quality of life. At the time, I couldn’t include the ASPCA’s excellent poster that I wish could be circulated the world over – starting with every known animal shelter.  Here it is now.  I hope it spurs more thought on how animals live and are treated in shelters – and the reforms that such thinking would require.


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