We’ve all had that plane ride with the obnoxiously loud animal. Just last year as I headed home for spring break, a boy decided it was a good idea to bring a kitten on the plane.
Thankfully it was a short flight, and I spent the majority listening to the Weeknd on full blast.
Others, unfortunately, run into this dilemma on longer, international flights. Upon some investigation on pettravel.com, the American Disabilities Act allows service pets to accompany owners onto flights. This makes sense, and I am in no way hating on those who travel with a service animal.
That being said, I am bothered by comfort creatures, otherwise known as emotional support animals. Essentially, these animals are therapy accessories and can be dogs, cats, parrots, horses, elephants, lizards, monkeys and the recent addition of pigs.
I don’t know about you, but a parrot on a plane sounds like a stress-inducer not a stress-reliever. You want to talk about echo chambers?
Many airlines accept these assistive animals on domestic flights, and British Airways, Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic allow them to board international flights as well.
Although “The Horse Flies to Japan” sounds like an excellent children’s book, it shouldn’t enter the non-fiction genre anytime soon.
The worst part of it all is the airports are actually into it. I get it — as evidenced by every single Facebook feed, miniature pigs are adorable. Do they belong at airports? Apparently the San Francisco International Airport thinks they do.
On Monday, LiLou, a Juliana-breed therapy pig passed her TSA PreCheck and was ready to cuddle up with passengers experiencing pre-flight anxiety.
She is a member of SFO’s Wag Brigade, a cohort of 22 friendly therapy dogs and handler teams to help relax people who have pre-travel jitters.
Sure, travelling can be stressful. I’ve run through the entire Chicago O’Hare Airport in 15 minutes and because of my breezy dress, everyone I passed saw my bright pink undies. At the moment catching my flight was far more important than public decency.
You know what’s also stressful? Shit. While I’m sure these pets are very well trained, I’m not sure they’d be able to make it all the way to the Animal Relief Area the SFO has so conveniently supplied.
The SFO isn’t alone. There’s a Denver International Airport Cainine Airport Therapy Squad. Los Angeles International Airport has a Pets Unstressing Passengers program. After seeing this national trend, I’m sure more airports will follow in suit.
Although having cute pets wander around airports is a nice idea, I think there are many more serious issues that airports should tackle, and I don’t think bringing a squad of therapy animals is going to help create a solution.
I know many who read this will peg me as a cold-hearted animal hater who has nothing better to do with her life than whine about cute, innocent puppies and miniature pigs.
While this may be true, I also think that animals are best roaming around in grassy fields and not licking up the remains of someone’s half-eaten Auntie Anne’s pretzel.
This article was originally published as a column for the Indiana Daily Student on 6 December 2016.