Sort of Travel, but more Off Topic. The latest in the “forcible removed passenger” genre is one Anila Daulatzai. I’m a lawyer who practices in the area of disability law, and when I saw the press coverage mention “service dog,” I thought “Some lawyer is going to get PAID!”
But what really happened is that Daulatzai complained about an emotional support animal (much much different than a service animal, as defined by the ADA). Daulatzai said she is deathly ill of dogs, but had no medical certificate to back it up. At this point, Daulatzai refused to get off the airplane, and an over-the-top forcible removal ensued.
What’s interesting to me on this one is the crowd reaction. A lot of members of the peanut gallery telling the woman to “walk off.”
Could do lots of polls on this one (are emotional-support-animal privileges abused (yes!)), but I’ll go with a straightforward: “Who was right?”
Congress needs to do something about the law that allows people to bring emotional support animals on planes free of charge. It is absolutely being abused. And to relate this to the article you posted, based on Lehto’s explanation for the law, it seems the airline is supposed to allow the person with the dog to stay and if a person with an allergy insists they can’t be on a plane with a dog, they are the one that has to leave. In your article, it mentions that she didn’t have a “medical certificate necessary to prove the pet allergy.” My question now becomes, what happens when a person does have that cerificate? You now have a certified allergic person and a person with a certified (lol) emotional support animal. Who wins? Who gets kicked off?
I’ve travelled with my ESA before. Every time I brought my psychiatrists letter to prove that he was in fact necessary.
One time a lady sitting across the aisle from me said she was afraid of dogs. The stewardess offered to relocate her and she refused. At that point the staff member said there is nothing she can do. I got angry looks from her the entire flight.
Most of the time I travel with my dog people don’t even know he is there. Even those that later say they have an allergy.
Are you upset with all the people that claim their animal is an ESA in order to get free flights for it?
Do you agree that people that don’t need an ESA, but claim they do for the free travel, are giving you a bad name?
I think there will always be people who attempt to abuse any policy, i was lucky, i had insurance and the ability to see a psychiatrist. Not everyone can afford that. To burden them with necessity of documentation would cause undue harm to others. I also don’t like the idea of telling everyone my condition. I’ve had flight attendants ask what is my condition. That’s none of their business but, in this day and age refuse to answer and you are asummed to be fraudster.
Frankly, the only way people who abuse the policy are giving me a bad name is if their dog is unruly. Otherwise, how would anyone know?
How is requiring documentation for an emotional support animal “undue harm?” If someone legitimately needs an emotional support animal, wouldn’t they have gone through a psychiatrist to figure that out? If someone can’t afford a psychiatrist and just feels better when they are with their pet, that doesn’t mean they need an emotional support animal, it just means they like their pet.
An animal doesn’t have to be unruly to be an abuse of the policy and give you a bad name. You just said that you don’t like flight attendants assuming you are a fraudster. They don’t assume that because of all the unruly animals, they assume it because so many people claim they need ESAs to fly all of a sudden. This is something new now that the law allows it. Up until people started scamming the airlines, pets were required to fly with the luggage and it cost money. Now the animals fly in the cabin free of charge. The law created a huge incentive for people to lie and claim their pet is an emotional support animal. When I see someone carrying around a Pomeranian with a ESA vest on, I assume the person is just a self important jerk that wants their pet with them all the time because of how often the law is abused. See how legit people like you get a bad name even if the other claimed ESAs aren’t unruly?
It’s actually easier than getting a doctor’s note. Google “emotional support animal” and see how many sites pop up that only want a few bucks to send you an official looking certificate and a vest for your dog.
It’s a sign of USA is going in the shitter (yes, I got bad attitude tonight).
The last time I flew SWA someone tries to get this full sized German Shepherd on the plane at the last minute and it’s already sold out. the local drug store often have people with dogs and I keep pestering the clerk about them but there’s nothing they are willing to do. Once, I see them do a poop patrol afterward and someone called for a mop. I hope it wasn’t on a bag of chip.
If they aren’t banning emotional support animals after they poop in the business, then the only thing left is when the emotional support animals start biting people inside the business, and the other customer sues them for lots of money. After that the businesses will wise up and start asking more questions and banning them. Hopefully.
I did see a manager at a supermarket once (I think it was Publix) sternly telling an old lady that she could not bring her dog in the store. I could tell from the conversation that this wasn’t the first time she had been told. I have no idea if she tried to claim it was an emotional support animal, however. But I was happy to see that manager actually enforcing a common sense policy that didn’t allow dogs in a store that sells food.
I’ve seen dogs at Walmart Supercenter (yes, in the food section), the local mall, and Home Depot. This whole issue surprises me. I hadn’t heard of emotional support animals. I can see how it can be abused.
The emotional support animals are not universally recognized, and can be banned relatively easily.
On the other hand, there are service animals under the ADA. A service animal can be taken anywhere a patron can go (supermarkets, buffets, etc). In fact, the business must let the animal go anywhere a patron can, or else the business can be sued.
As for asking questions, a business is allowed to ask two, and only two questions:
Is this a service animal? (If the answer is yes, only one follow up question).
What skills has the animal been trained to have to assist you?
Any other questions opens up the business to liability.
Hard to say how this will shake out moving forward. There’s definitely boatloads of money to be made. I never got in the track to make this happen, personally. I have been part of one ADA suit but never tried to form a business around it.
I think some states have laws that make it a crime to falsely represent an animal as a service animal - I know my state does. But I am pretty sure I saw the stat somewhere that no one in my state has ever been prosecuted for that crime, so it’s more of a deterrent. Essentially, until someone gets questioned, claims their dog is a service dog, that dog bites someone (which a real service dog would almost never do), and then that person sues the dog owner and the business and finds out the dog wasn’t really a service dog, we won’t see anyone get it trouble for lying about their pet being a service animal.
Your buddy is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to be an entrepreneur these days.
A good rule of thumb that business owners need to learn is that generally speaking, if you see a dog misbehaving, barking, or being held/carried in a bag by it’s owner, it is NOT a service animal. Also, if the animal is not a dog or miniature horse, it’s not a service animal.
“Woman accepts Southwest contract of carriage then refuses to be offloaded for legal reason” doesn’t make for a very good headline. I’m pretty sure they could just deem her medically unfit to fly due to her stated allergy and rebook her on the next flight, without recourse. You don’t really have any right for transport on any specific flight, other than in the court of Twitter/Facebook.