Service animals in flight continue to ruffle feathers

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The emotional support peacock recently turned away from a United Airlines flight is only the latest example of all matter of animals that have been traveling by air as "comfort animals."

A rabbit, a duck, a pig -- even an albino hedgehog have all been spotted in the cabin.

The abuse of the Emotional Service Animal (ESA) program leads Delta Airlines to announce a new policy that will require owners to provide more proof of their service animal's qualifications as well as health documents 48 hours in advance.

The move is not sitting well with disability advocates in the Bay Area.

RELATED: Peacock denied as emotional support animal for flight

The President of Golden State Guide Dog Handlers, Inc., Alice Turner, told ABC7 News the new policy is being contested by all of the major guide dog school programs as well as guide dog handlers.

"Although we know that fake service animals traveling is a nightmare for all involved, including passengers with trained service dogs, the policy of requiring a health certificate 48 hours before traveling is unlawful and not practical. CEOs from the major guide dog school programs nationwide have offered to meet with Delta to come up with a fair and practical policy. If airlines followed the ADA guidelines for what is legal for a service animal than we would not be in this horrible situation of traveling with fake service animals of all types," Turner wrote in an email.

The director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University agrees that the Delta policy will only create more red tape for legitimate service dog owners.

But, she believes there are many types of animals that provide all kinds of support for people; support that others might not understand.

Catherine Kudlick said only the absurd stories about outrageous animals make the headlines but you never hear stories about the people with disabilities who are wrongfully refused entry to places because of their service animal.
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