The era of iffy "emotional support" animals may be coming to an end. This month, airlines and mental health advocates are conducting their final meetings on the explosion of support animals (20,000, up from 2,400 five years ago) that has led to support pigs, monkeys, and parrots making appearances on airplanes. It's not at all certain what the study will recommend to a US Department of Transportation panel, but the airlines are getting a little fed up with everyone skirting their $150 pet fees. Changes may be coming.
What does that mean? It means the dog that an internet doc said keeps you from having a mental breakdown might soon need to be put in a carrier and checked like all the other pets. And if you want to keep traveling with him, you'll need to know some tricks of the trade. We conferred with our friends at Figo Pet Insurance, as well as our friends who travel with non-support animals, and put together these tips.
Loading up your pet with drugs
Many of you no doubt glanced at this headline, snickered, and said to yourself, "Whatever. I just drug the shit out of them and it's fine." Congrats for making it to the first subhead, Dr. Feelgood, but the American Veterinary Medical Association says it's actually not fine. Countless problems can arise from using unprescribed tranquilizers, including: increased repertory problems at attitude, damaged equilibrium, and ultimately long-term dependence on tranquilizers to calm down. If your vet determines they are medically necessary, then by all means. If not, consider a pheromone collar, which emits the same scent mother dogs use to calm their puppies.
Assuming you know the airline's policies
You ever wonder why some airplanes feel like an ASPCA shelter and others don't have a dog in sight? That's because every airline has a different policy towards animals in the main cabin. Nearly all charge fees; some require animals to be put in the cargo compartment; and many don't allow more than a couple of animals per flight. So before you make any other preparations, call the airline AFTER you book your ticket, make a reservation for your pet, and plan accordingly.