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RSVPhillippi | September 2018

Dennis Phillippi

Panda on the Exit Row

Sometimes when I get really busy being annoyed by various things, I end up having something sneak up and settle in before I have the chance to get hot and bothered about until it’s too late. Case in point, emotional support animals. I wasn’t keeping score on this one because there were scooters and man buns and Kardashians keeping my bonnet bee-filled. I haven’t been traveling that much in the last couple of years, so I haven’t run into one of these pets on planes. While I wasn’t paying attention, kooks slipped “emotional” support in with actual support animals, like say, a Seeing Eye dog.  A Seeing Eye dog is a support animal — a hamster isn’t.

One of the major airlines recently announced that the only animals they would be allowing are “one dog or cat, in a cage or on a leash, per passenger.” For the moment, we’re going to set aside the problems with a cat being a support animal of any kind. I’ve had cats all of my life, and none of them have ever supported anything except the proposition that they own me and not the other way around. Part of this airlines’ decision was apparently inspired by an incident in which a woman’s emotional support peacock didn’t meet an airlines’ regulatory requirements. I did not make that up. A woman’s emotional support peacock was an issue. This is a tricky area for me because, obviously, having a peacock for emotional support is nuts. But by definition, the person who has a peacock for emotional support is already tacitly admitting to being nuts.

Just a brief look around the old Internet showed me how far this nonsense has gone while I was busy being angry about other things.  While the airlines have been relentlessly going through our pockets for spare change to pay for everything from a blanket to overhead bin space just for the privilege to ride in their disease-laden, cattle-packed death tubes, they took their eye off the ball on this weird animals for weird people thing. Until today it was perfectly legal for some loon to literally carry a loon onto an airplane because flying makes them nervous and the only thing that can keep them calm is their emotional support bird. Flying makes me nervous, that’s what alcohol and tranquilizers are for. Flying beside some crackpot and their emotional support bird wouldn’t just make me nervous, it would make me furious. In recent years people have been spotted traveling with ducks, kangaroos, squirrels, hedgehogs, capuchin monkeys, pigs, turkeys, domestic goats, turtles, and even miniature horses.  I have to cram my laptop bag under my seat because I don’t want to pay to put it in the overhead storage, but some crazy person can bring on board their pony to keep them emotionally stable. I have news for you, if you need anything from a horse other than a ride you’re never going to be emotionally stable. Keep the horse in, you know, the stable.

 It seems like in a time when we all think the world is getting less tolerant, I know I certainly am, we’re letting people get away with an awfully lot in the name of not calling lunatics lunatics. My wife and I have four cats. That’s a stupid, crazy number of cats for two people to own. We know it’s stupid and crazy, and our friends have been more than happy to reinforce this knowledge. “Who has four cats? That’s insane. And stupid.” But if we had, say, an emotional support giraffe then they’d be sort of honor bound to respect our needs. Well, that’s stupid and crazy.  

 You can register your emotional support animal in three easy steps online for $80. This gets you, man this gets sillier and sillier, an Animal ID that has your animal’s photo and information, including your legal rights if needed. Believe me, if I’m on that flight, you’re going to need them. According to the website for USA Emotional Support Animals, federal law guarantees your right to fly with your anaconda if a licensed medical professional writes you a letter stating your emotional need for the reptile. Oh, your registration also gives you access to their in-house lawyers should said rights be violated. For one thing, this means that at some point legislation was written, presented, voted on, and passed guaranteeing your right to have your marmoset in your carry-on. That’s your tax dollars at work friends. It also means that there are law school graduates who do nothing but fight for the rights of the tin foil hat brigade. Sure, they could be fighting for the environment or the poor, but according to their priorities that woman with the emotional support swordfish is more important. And by the way, I’m at the age where I have plenty of friends that are doctors or other kinds of medical professionals, and I have no doubt I could get one of them to write me a letter stating my emotional need for my bantam rooster. Don’t think I’m not considering it.

Far be it from me to encourage any kind of discrimination against the mentally ill or challenged. We all have people in our lives who have been dealt a bad hand where psychological stability is concerned, but a real medical professional is not going to honestly support this emotional support animal nonsense. I have huge anxiety issues, and I am truly afraid to fly, but that doesn’t mean I should have the legal right to make everyone else on an airplane miserable by traveling with my kinkajou. 

I know people who are very emotionally attached to their animals. I talk to my cats a lot more than I’d like to admit. But, asking me and the rest of the animal-loving population to not bring them onto an airplane is a very reasonable request. I’m sorry I didn’t get out in front of this sooner.