The Controversy of Unauthorized Dogs on Flights: Are They Really Service Animals?

Carter Jackson

Updated Saturday, February 10, 2024 at 11:22 PM CDT

The Controversy of Unauthorized Dogs on Flights: Are They Really Service Animals?

The Unsettling Encounter on a 5-Hour Flight

On a seemingly ordinary 5-hour flight, a passenger finds themselves seated next to two dachshunds wearing service doggie jackets. However, what follows is far from ordinary. These dogs persistently attempt to jump on the passenger's tray table, eyeing their food with an unsettling desire. As the passenger expresses their disgust, the dog owner nonchalantly reveals that these dogs are flying for free. This encounter raises questions about the appropriateness of animals in the human cabin and the need for a separate section to accommodate them.

The Distinction Between True Service Dogs and Impostors

A Reddit user, familiar with the world of service animals, offers insights into the situation. They suggest that these dachshunds are unlikely to be true service dogs. Genuine service dogs undergo extensive training and are trained to ignore food and distractions, making their behavior on the flight highly questionable. The passenger, who lives with five dogs themselves, including a trained and certified working K9, expresses frustration at individuals falsely claiming their pets as service animals for easier travel.

Understanding the Difference between Service Animals and Emotional Support Pets

To shed light on the matter, another Reddit user explains the distinction between service animals and emotional support pets. Service animals undergo rigorous training and have official licenses, whereas emotional support pets do not require any specific training. This information further supports the suspicion that the dachshunds on the flight may not be legitimate service animals.

The Unlikelihood of Dachshunds as Service Animals

The discussion takes a turn as the conversation delves into the breeds typically chosen for service animal training. Larger breeds like labs, golden retrievers, or German shepherds are more commonly selected due to their size and ability to perform tasks required for assistance. Dachshunds, being smaller in size, are unlikely candidates for service animal training, raising further doubts about their legitimacy.

Seeking Resolution: Reporting the Situation

In search of a solution, a Reddit user advises the passenger to inquire about the airline's policy on emotional support animals if the dogs continue to cause annoyance. Understanding the regulations surrounding emotional support animals can provide clarity on whether their behavior is acceptable or not.

The conversation takes a legal standpoint by referencing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website, which states that service animals must be under the control of their handler, either harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless the individual's disability prevents the use of these devices. The passenger argues that the dogs in question are not under control, violating the guidelines set forth by the ADA.

Another Reddit user suggests reporting the situation to a flight attendant, emphasizing that service dogs are not allowed on plane seats under any circumstances. By reporting the incident, the passenger can bring attention to the inappropriate behavior and potentially find a resolution.

Solidarity and the Importance of Reporting

A person who relies on a service dog expresses solidarity with the passenger, condemning the abuse of the system. They stress the importance of reporting such incidents to prevent further exploitation of the service animal regulations.

Acknowledging the safety concerns associated with bringing small dogs on flights, the passenger mentions that typically, they are required to be kept in a bag under the seat for the majority of the flight. This raises doubts about the legitimacy of the dogs' presence outside of their designated area.

In a final attempt to make sense of the situation, the passenger suspects that the owner may have paid for the dogs to be on the plane or potentially forged ADA papers. However, they acknowledge the difficulty of forging such documents, making it unlikely.

To find a resolution, the passenger suggests seeking assistance from a flight attendant who may be able to relocate them to a different seat if available. By taking action, the passenger hopes to address the issue and prevent similar incidents in the future.

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