Thursday, March 01, 2018

Fake Emotional Support Animals Lead to Lawsuits

In the end, lawyers will shut it down.  Over at WebMD they explain:

Airlines report more and more people are taking pets on planes by calling them emotional support animals. Such animals don’t have to perform any tasks or services for their owners. Instead, a licensed therapist writes a letter certifying that the person traveling with the animal has a mental illness -- like PTSD or anxiety -- that the animal soothes by its presence.

In 2015, one major airline carried more than 24,000 emotional support animals, compared with about 14,000 service animals, according to the International Air Travel Association.

Thanks to a federal law, emotional support animals are allowed to board a flight at no extra charge. They can sit on the floor at their owner’s feet, or in their laps, if they are small enough.

Not everyone is happy about that.

Statistics kept by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that complaints related to animals for people with “unspecified” disabilities have surged by 500% in the last 5 years -- increasing from 411 in 2012 to 2,041 in 2016. In contrast, complaints related to service animals for people with visual impairments have remained relatively steady, about 13 each year for U.S. airlines.

Sometimes the incidents are annoyances -- an emotional support pig was kicked off a U.S. Airways flight in 2014 after it defecated in the aisle, for instance.

In other cases, emotional support animals have injured people.

In November, Brittany Langlois of Southbridge, MA, said she was bitten in the leg by an emotional support dog at Orlando International Airport while she waited to check in for her JetBlue flight to Boston.

In June, Marlin Jackson of Daphne, AL, was bitten in the face by an emotional support dog as he boarded a Delta flight from Atlanta to San Diego. Jackson was taken to the hospital. He needed 28 stitches.

.... “It’s a mess,” [says David Favre, a professor at Michigan State and an expert on animal law].

It’s also becoming a risk for therapists who vouch for these animals.

[Cathy Zemaitis, director of development for National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), in Princeton, MA] says she recently spoke to a psychologist in Massachusetts who was asked by his patient to sign a letter so she could bring her pet on an airplane as an emotional support dog.

“That dog bit someone. That person sued the doctor who signed the letter,” Zemaitis says.

Sure sue the doctor.  Also the person who lied about the dog AND THE AIRLINE.

You have to take off your shoes and get half undressed to get on an airplane these days, and God forbid you have a bottle of mouthwash, but a completely untrained dog is fine?


If bit, take it to a jury.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

My doctoral dissertation was dedicated to Sprocket, my dog at the time, "for keeping things in perspective". Dogs ARE great for emotional support.
No way would I have claimed this support approached the support a true guide dog or SOME assistance dogs (there are lots of phonies) provide...or attempted to bring Sprocket on an airplane in the passenger section.
It's sad how cheating has become a respected game in our culture.