2018-02-09 / Commentary

Emotional Support Peacocks

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation

We were sharing lunch at a local fave. A couple shuffled in. The two legged being sat down heavily in the next table and ordered a beer. The four legged creature waddled to a spot near her and lay down. His Service Dog vest was bunched around his rear haunches.

During the next several minutes, the big dog moved around the room, ignored commands by his owner, and made friends with anyone just receiving their lunch. If that dog was a trained Service Dog, then I’m a Pulitzer Prize winning author.

We see more and more service dogs these days. I’m sure some of them are legitimate, having passed through training sessions as they are required. I also know service dog certification has become a scam, much like handicapped driver stickers.

I know people, and you do too, who use the service dog technicality to allow dogs to travel without conditions, and take their nasty little chihuahuas with them everywhere by buying a service dog vest on the Dark Web or at the Highway One Flea Market. The issue should be obvious to all. Some people are getting away with breaking the rules.

In a perfect world, all the rules are for everyone’s own good, all of us abide by the letter and intent of those rules, and the people making use of exceptions are in need of a workaround and don’t really want to be different. But we all know deep down they think they are Special People. Consider the following examples.

United Airlines is revisiting the company rules involving service animals after a person tried to board an airplane with an emotional support peacock sitting on her shoulder. Yes, that’s what I said.

Performance artist Ventiko claims to have followed all procedural requests and her peacock, Dexter, who has its own Twitter page, was certified as an emotional support animal and should have been allowed on the plane. I won’t opine on whether that is true; I have problems with allowing performance artists and anyone with only one name on planes I’m flying on. But that’s just me. And also consider there is no national registry for certifying emotional support animals.

Because of this incident, United is upgrading company rules for service animals. Spiders, snakes, anything that bites or stinks or won’t fit under the seat won’t be allowed. Sounds like a Jim Stafford song.

Delta’s rules are similar. They specify hooves and horns as banned. Both airlines require emotional support animals to be small enough to fit under the seat. I’d like to know the animal is obedience trained or will sleep the whole trip.

I understand the idea. We think we have the best pet ever. I know I have. We think we should be granted an exception to the rules because our case is special. That only applies if your mother is making the rules.

There are eight billion of us now, and the number is growing. The idea that any one of us is special is really stretching the idea. At some point, we all have to make amends for those around us.

This is a good place to start.

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