An inflight petting zoo is now a possibility according to the recent ruling by the American Department of Transportation which classifies pot-bellied pigs, monkeys and even miniature horses as service animals. The new guidelines make it possible for passengers with disabilities to fly on commercial planes with their pets if the animals offers “emotional support,” The Daily Mail reports. The “service animals” would be allowed to board with their human companions if the animals meet a list of criteria presented by the airport staff.
CNS News notes that airport staff must allow passengers with a service animal to board and the creatures no longer need to be a dog. If the airport staffer has a “reasonable basis” for questioning the legitimacy of the alleged service animal, the worker is entitled to “ask” for verification. If you plan on taking your miniature horse or 150lb Sulcata tortoise on your honeymoon to Key West, be prepared to explain what type of aid the animal offers and the type of training the creature has undergone.
Should an airport staffer and the passenger disagree about the appropriateness of calling the pig, cat, dog, tortoise or miniature horse a service animal, a complaints resolution official will be called and make the final ruling. While not entirely commonplace, pot-bellied pigs are used as service animals, especially when the individual needing aid is allergic to dogs. The pigs can be trained to use a litter box and open and close doors.
All animals allowed on the plane must behave “appropriately in a public setting,” and not obstruct the aisle or present safety hazards. Typically, snakes, spiders, ferrets and rodents do not make the service animal cut as far as airport officials are concerned. The new Basis of Disability in Air Travel” Draft Technical Assistance Manual is open for public comment and review until October.