From providing companionship to relief from loneliness, many of these animals do a lot for the handlers that they are providing support to.
Travelling can become a real hassle when one has to leave behind their service animals or emotional support animals. But there is some respite now, after new guidelines published by the federal government state that even miniature horses can be allowed on domestic flights.
This means that you or anyone you know can take designated service animals along on an aircraft and enjoy the support they provide as you travel from one place to the other. After a lot of debate and a lot of passengers being denied the chance to take their service animals with them, the US Department Of Transportation said in a statement, "With respect to animal species, we indicated that we would focus our enforcement efforts on ensuring that the most commonly used service animals (dogs, cats, and miniature horses) are accepted for transport as service animals."
However, it must be noted that airlines are not obligated to let therapy miniature horses board the flight with their handler by law, but the airlines could face a penalty, as reported by CBS Detroit.
While dogs are common service animals, other animals too, like miniature horses, have been providing support to people as therapy animals. For people with conditions affecting their eyesight, they could be great guides. The Guide Horse Foundation wrote, "Horses are natural guide animals and have been guiding humans for centuries. In nature, horses have been shown to possess a natural guide instinct."
Another reason why some may choose to have a miniature horse as a support animal is that they have a lifespan of 30 to 40 years, which is longer compared to other emotional support animals.
In the past, there have been several cases where passengers have tried to take their support animals with them. One passenger was able to board a Delta Air Lines flight with a turkey in 2016. The passenger was able to show the required papers to inform officials that the turkey was an emotional support animal, according to Independent.
You get on the plane and sit next to someone with this as their emotional support animal, what do you do? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/rYKgaIqdOY— Erykah BaDolezal ✊🏿 (@moeshamitchel) January 6, 2016
Carla Fitzgerald, who suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder, was also able to fly with Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt or Daniel the Duck, her emotional support animal. After Carla Fitzgerald had an accident in 2013, it was Daniel who helped her through PTSD.
"Everyone just took notice of him and fell in love. I mean, he's an adorable, funny and sweet little guy. He was very well behaved at the airport and during the flight," Carla Fitzgerald said. "I think his little red shoes and Captain America diaper were also really well received."
But not everyone has been as lucky when it comes to flying with their support animal accompanying them. A few years back, when a woman boarded the plane with her pig who's also her emotional support animal. However, it was reported by ABC News that the pig became disruptive, because of which the woman had to leave the plane with her pig.
What passengers have to keep in mind is carrying the necessary paperwork along with them when they fly with an emotional support animal. Jason Ellis faced issues when he traveled with Gizmo, his emotional support marmoset after not presenting the right paperwork.
“He had opportunities to present this [paperwork] before boarding the aircraft and never did,” said Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner, according to USA Today. “Only after a flight attendant noticed the monkey did he even acknowledge he was traveling with the animal. Would he ever have disclosed this information to a Frontier employee had the flight attendant not seen the monkey?”
"These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities," explained The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.
They also mentioned that these animals not only provide support to differently-abled people and said, "Even though some states have laws defining therapy animals, but these animals are also not limited to working with people with disabilities. Therefore, they are not covered by federal laws protecting the use of service animals."