Southwest Airlines Squeezes Love Out of Emotional Support Animals With Tighter Restrictions, Apparently They’re Not Peacock People

If you’ve ever hugged a dog, you know how wonderful it feels, especially when you’re crammed into coach like a wedgie, pretending to ignore the sudden turbulence that’s toppled your dinner tray and rattled your mortality. No one can deny that the emotional support a trained animal provides is immeasurable – unless you happen to be Southwest Airlines and you’re using the metric of bites, flesh wounds, and stitches that fellow passengers and crew have sustained.

Over the past few years, the increase of so-called emotional support animals being hoisted onto airplanes under the guise of an emotional necessity has been dizzying. We’ve seen incidents involving ponies, snakes, comfort turkeys, gliding possums, spiders, and more. Much more. In one flagrantly hilarious case, the emotional support animal required its own emotional support animal to help cope with the stress of flying. The reason things got so out of hand with service animals belonged entirely to the language used in the federal rules. They never actually defined what a service animal was.

In late 2020, however, things reached a boiling point. Already at wit’s end after the worst year in air travel history (see Covid), airlines banded together to put a stop to animal “abuse,” lobbying the government to make changes to its rules. Much to everyone’s astonishment, the government listened, and effective March 1, service animals on all U.S. flights will now be limited to dogs. The career canines must have a certificate confirming their training and will only be allowed if they, “do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.” All other animals, despite what their owners may call them, will hereafter be classified as pets.

We for one, congratulate America’s hardworking flight attendants on having one less thing to juggle. Although, now that emotional support animals are off the table, it might be time to make the case for emotional support magic brownies, emotional support cocaine, and emotional support extra-large pizzas. Just saying.

Cover Photo: Nail Fattakhov (Getty Images)

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