ESAA – Emotional Support Animal Absurdity

Today’s flight attendant must feel like Noah of the Ark – animals boarding one after the other taking their places on and under the seats. Dogs, cats, rabbits and pork belly pigs – all of which their owners claim to be emotional support animals approved by doctors and the airline itself.
Actually, it wouldn’t be so bad if that list of ESAs (and yes, they now have earned their own anagram!) was limited to those four species.
Recently a woman showed up at the United Airlines counter at Newark, New Jersey for a flight to Los Angeles with an emotional support peacock named Dexter. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard the shrill scream of a peacock, but flight attendants would be better off dealing with a drunken Guido from Jersey Shores than a bird whose cry comes in at 115 decibels.
I had a friend on a farm out here in Wainfleet who was so stressed out by the neighbour’s screeching peacock she shot it! So as far as ESA’s are concerned, my friend would be okay if United Airlines allowed Dexter on the flight as long as she could bring her shotgun on board.
Yet another woman had her ESA rejected and was quoted as saying she could not “think about life without Stormy,” her emotional-support snake. (Didn’t Trump say the same thing about Stormy, the one who dances with poles?) Snakes on planes – bad – but not possibly as bad as the movie.
Delta Airlines has banned “creatures with tusks” which could well avoid the embarrassing situation of a real elephant in the room. Delta had their ESA moment in 2016 when a passenger brought on a big black turkey as their therapeutic companion.
That same year on a Frontier Airlines flight from Columbus, Ohio to Las Vegas someone’s emotional support marmoset got loose and disappeared on the plane. Oscar a seven-foot boa constrictor ESA must have been sleeping at the time otherwise he’d have found that varmit!
Jet Blue has since banned “unusual animals” like “snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents and spiders.” Spiders! Really, there’s a person out there who experiences calmness every time a tarantula crawls down his shirt?!?
Jet Blue’s initial experience with a bad ESA flight came when many passengers complained about a duck walking up and down the aisle unaccompanied. The duck’s name – not making this up – was Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt and he was wearing a Captain America diaper and tiny red shoes. Are you kidding me? I’d pay fifty bucks extra to sit back with a drink and watch a duck wearing a nappy and sneakers walk up and down the aisle. I once had a woman change a diaper next to me during the inflight meal so yeah, I’m definitely going with that daffy duck.
What truly boggles the mind is that although they banned rodents and reptiles, miniature horses were allowed to fly as ESAs on all Jet Blue flights. I suppose it comes down to how everybody aboard feels about miniature horse buns. My worst nightmare on long flights is the crying kid so I’m thinking… pony rides.
Shortly after Alaska Airlines banned goats, passengers at the Albany International Airport in New York heard an official on the PA system announce that someone had left an emotional support goldfish at security. (I’ll bet Oscar was salivating when he heard that announcement.)
And finally we come to the grand ESA of them all – Wally. Wally is a five-foot-long, 60-pound alligator and the doctor-approved security blanket for 65-year-old Joie Henney of York Haven, Pennsylvania. Wally is described as “bashful, a big teddy bear who likes to snuggle and give hugs,”
“My doctor wanted to put me on depression medicine and I hate taking medicine” said Joie as he snuggled on the couch with this grinning grey reptile with huge warts and teeth the size of railroad spikes. “I had Wally, and when I came home and was around him, it was all OK.” (All okay except nobody has seen the paperboy in over a year!)
Ah Joie, you need to watch Grizzly Man, the Werner Herzog documentary about Timothy Treadwell who befriended three grizzly bears in Alaska to the point where he petted them, fed them and they slept together. Grizzly bears are described as “man-eating” for a very good reason and on October 6, 2003 Timothy became one of those reasons. It’s sort of a twisted version of “The Three Little Bears” which ends with Papa Bear saying: “Screw it. I’m not going out tonight to forage for food. I’m eatin’ in!” I know Joie hates taking medicine but I wonder how he feels about embalming fluid?
Look, I understand the palliative power of pets. I’m uplifted just by petting a dog or a cat. But that’s it, dogs and cats. All other animals go in the hold and keep the parakeets a safe tongue-snapping distance from Oscar. The last thing airlines need is a “Your ESA ate my ESA fight” among passengers.
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