Emotional support animals are companions that a medical professional has prescribed as helpful to someone with a disability. These animals are usually regular pets like dogs, cats and occasionally rabbits or guinea pigs. Many airlines recognize that flying causes great anxiety to many people, and so allow emotional support animals to fly aboard planes with their humans.
Like all nice, good and helpful things however, there are always people that will go too far and ruin it for everyone else. This list, compiled by Bored Panda, is a series of times when people brought unusual, unnecessary and just frankly ridiculous animals along for their 'emotional support,' and while some here have a genuine need, many are just abusing a concept that has a real purpose for many people.
Scroll down to see what we mean for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments.
#1 Pony On An Flight
Flirty The Mini Service Horse (a.k.a. Flirty) is a miniature horse who is a service animal. She is a very small miniature horse, standing only 27 inches tall and weighing just over 130 lbs, who loves attention and helping her disabled owner/handler, Abrea Hensley. Abrea is allergic to dogs and has post-traumatic stress disorder, so she takes Flirty everywhere she goes. The little mare reminds Hensley to take her medication and provides support when she becomes overwhelmed
Image credits: Flirty The Mini Service Horse
#2 Emotional Support Peacock, Trying To Board A Flight From Newark To L.a
This woman brought along her emotional support peacock for her flight to L.A. from Newark Airport. It didn’t go well. Despite being warned three times that Dexter the peacock would not be allowed to travel with her, conceptual artist Ventiko showed up at the airport anyway. Dexter was promptly turned away by United Airlines
Image credits: dexterthepeacock
#3 'Emotional Support' Pig Kicked Off Flight For Being Disruptive
Woman has been kicked off her plane for bringing a 70-pound pig on board for 'emotional support'. She made it to the plane and was sitting with the pig on her lap, however, before long, the pig was reported as being 'out of control' and disruptive. So the passenger was asked to get off.
Image credits: @ianbremmer
#4 Duck On Flight
Daniel the Duck is a certified emotional support animal, who helps his owner Carla Fitzgerald battle the post traumatic stress disorder. “Everyone just took notice of him and fell in love,” Fitzgerald told ABC News. “I mean, he’s an adorable, funny and sweet little guy. He was very well behaved at the airport and during the flight.”
Image credits: Mark Essig
#5 My Friend Had An 'Emotional Support Turkey' On Her Flight To Seattle
Easter the turkey was Jodie Smalley's support animal. Smalley found it 'as a shivering chick standing in the road on Easter Day', hence the name. “Easter came to me as a tiny poult at an emotionally difficult time in my life being in a mentally abusive and failing marriage,” Smalley explained
Image credits: averym88
#6 Emotional Support Kangaroo
"A customer tried to bring a baby kangaroo on the plane as a service animal," a retired airline customer service agent with 18 years of experience told Business Insider.
Image credits: ShawnReynolds_
#7 Pony On Flight
Cuddles is a 2 foot tall pygmy horse, that's a guide horse for Dan Shaw, providing many of the same services you would associate with a seeing eye dog. Dan suffers from a degenerative eye disease that left him with little vision in either eye. The horse had a bowel movement in the middle of the flight. The plane required a professional deep cleaning.
Image credits: kazz42
#8 There Is Such A Thing As A Service Pony And I Want One
Image credits: Alancumming
#9 When My Mom Has A Kangaroo On Her Flight As An "Emotional Support Animal"
Image credits: DevinnZeller
#10 Woman Removed From Flight To Cleveland With Emotional Support Squirrel: 'You Will Not Take My Baby'
A passenger was removed from a Frontier Airlines flight when she attempted to fly with her “emotional support” squirrel and then refused to get off the plane when she was told no, according to the airline. A Frontier spokesman said in a statement that the passenger had alerted the airline that she would be bringing an emotional-support animal on the flight but did not mention it would be a rodent. “Rodents, including squirrels, are not allowed on Frontier flights,” the statement read. “
Image credits: fox8news
#11 Don't Act Like You've Never Seen A Therapy Turkey Going Through Airport Security
This emotional support turkey was spotted at San Francisco Airport.
The turkey was seen going through security sometime last week by KTVU journalist Frank Somerville, who shared the story to his Facebook page.
According to the post, the turkey is an emotional support animal for a woman who lost her husband. The woman takes the turkey everywhere with her, and it even sleeps with her at night.
Image credits: Frank Somerville KTVU
#12 We've Got Cock!! Emotional Support Rooster For. The. Win
Image credits: passengershaming
#13 Just Your Everyday Emotional Support Kangaroo…
Image credits: passengershaming
#14 Pig On Flight
Image credits: goldboxatl
#15 Monkey Business! Meet Gizmo Who Stirred All That Trouble On A Las Vegas Bound Frontier Airlines Flight
Marmoset Gizmo got through TSA screening and boarded a Frontier Airlines flight from Columbus, Ohio to Las Vegas. Gizmo's owner, Jason Ellis, didn't warn other passengers or crew about his emotional support pet, so their surprise when Gizmo started poking its head out of Ellis's shirt was understandable. Gizmo was never loose on flight and stuck to owner's shirt the entire time.
Image credits: nateoneal
#16 Monkey Helper
Richard, a bonnet macaque monkey, belongs to Debby Rose, who suffers from agoraphobia, the fear of places and situations that causes panic, helplessness, or embarrassment. She brings her monkey everywhere and will even drive with him in the front seat.
Image credits: Rebecca Skloot
#17 The Traveler Assured Us There Was No “Fowl” Play Afoot And That This Was Simply Her Service Duck. Our Officers At Charleston (Chs) Were Overheard Saying That This Duck Was Pretty Chill. Not Lame At All…
Image credits: tsa
#18 Emotional Support Hamster's Owner Claimed The Staff Working For Spirit Airlines Told Her That Pebbles Would Have To Be Flushed Down A Toilet
Belen Aldecosea said she contacted Spirit airlines twice to confirm that her emotional support hamster can fly with her. But the animal was refused entry upon arrival, and an employee suggested she flush her pet down the toilet
Image credits: @DavidOvalle305
#19 Piggy Pilot. Hoggin' The Cockpit
Hamlet the Beach Hog is the emotional support animal of Megan Peabody who loves flying, but suffers from anxiety. According to Peabody, having her hog on board makes her feel "more comfortable and provides a lovely distraction."
Image credits: hamlet_the_beach_hog
#20 Bearded Dragon: Megan Curran Had An Emotional Support Bearded Dragon. The Young Girl Was Badly Bullied In High School And Found That Her Pet, Chief, Helped Curb Her Anxiety And Depression
The teenager was recently profiled in the Waco Tribune for her unique emotional support animal: a bearded dragon, upon whom she depends for anxiety relief.
Image credits: unknown
Bored Panda spoke to Lee from emotionalpetsupport.com, a platform that helps patients connect to doctors via a comprehensive assessment of their needs. "People come to us to see if they qualify for an emotional support animal and see if they need documentation from a licensed mental health professional, Lee told us.
"Typically, we’ve heard that the presence of an emotional support animal helps reduce one’s anxiety, provides companionship and lessens isolation. Some people have mentioned that an animal can trust and accept them more than a human can. Others have said that they feel more reassured trusting their ESA and have a greater sense of genuine love from the ESA as they would from a fellow human."
"Our assessment is graded and the most integral portion of the assessment that helps the doctor justify approving the patient’s request for an ESA are the fill-in-the-blank questions we have. The doctor pays attention to what the patient described in those and at times, the doctor does follow-up with the patient if they have additional questions or verifications."
While unusual emotional support animals get all the attention, Lee assures us that a vast majority of the time they are regular pets like cats and dogs. "We’ve seen many unique and exotic emotional support animals in our time, from tarantulas to ferrets. These are very uncommon occurrences, however!"