The New York Times recently published a story about a rise in the incidence of airline passengers, hotel guests and restaurant patrons who insist that their dogs be admitted "emotional assistance" animals.
The idea is that assistance dogs for those with emotional needs should be granted the same access to public places as dogs assisting those with physical disabilities. The problem is that the Department of Transportation does not define "disability" and does not define any special skills an animal must have to qualify as a service animal. Therefore, airlines have been forced to admit dogs, cats, a goat, a duck and even a miniature horse wearing a diaper on board to provide in-flight support to their owners. One woman interviewed for the article said the Pit Bull that she insists on taking onto planes and into hotel rooms "helps fend off dark moods."
The article stated that some in the service dog training industry "are concerned that pet owners who might simply prefer to brunch with their Labradoodle are abusing the guidelines." Ya think? What about the rights of other passengers and restaurant guests who are allergic to dogs, or afraid of them? What about the rights of a child who has to sit on a plane next to a large dog with no formal training who belongs to someone who's so emotionally unstable that she can't fly without the dog? What's going to happen when two of these emotional service animals get into a dog fight across someone's lap? Or when an emotional support German Shepherd Dog eats an emotional support rabbit?
I need a drink. Or a Doberman.