‘Emotional Support’ Pig Removed From Flight

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A woman was kicked off a US Airways flight after the pig she brought for "emotional support" became disruptive, an airline spokeswoman told CNN. The passenger and her large pig were booted from the flight before it left Connecticut's Bradley International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, spokeswoman Laura Masvidal said.

A woman was kicked off a US Airways flight after the pig she brought for “emotional support” became disruptive, an airline spokeswoman told CNN. The passenger and her large pig were booted from the flight before it left Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, spokeswoman Laura Masvidal said.

HARTFORD, Connecticut — A woman was kicked off a US Airways flight after the pig she brought for “emotional support” became disruptive, an airline spokeswoman told CNN.

The passenger and her large pig were booted from the flight before it left Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport on Wednesday, spokeswoman Laura Masvidal said.

“After the animal became disruptive, the passenger was asked to deplane,” she said.

How disruptive? Fellow passengers told the Hartford Courant that the big brown pig stank up the cabin of the tiny DC-bound aircraft before defecating in the aisle.

It was around 6 a.m. the day before Thanksgiving. When passenger Robert Phelps first saw the woman coming down the aisle, he thought she had a “really big dog” or a stuffed animal thrown over her shoulder.

“Everybody was trying to surmise what it could be because no one thought it was a pig,” he told CNN. “Other than a Fellini movie, where would you see a person with a pig?”

After she reached her seat and began to stow her items, the pig began “dropping things” in the aisle, he said. As she tied him to the armrest and tried to clean up after him, he began to howl.

“She was talking to it like a person, saying it was being a jerk,” he said. “I have no problems with babies, but this pig was letting out a howl.”

A flight attendant asked her to move to the front of the plane, and eventually she left, he said. He took a photo of her as she walked past him.

“I understand dogs and cats on planes. They come in crates but this was way too big, and it had no container,” he said. “It looked heavy. It was not a tiny, cute little pig.”

The passenger was allowed to bring the pig on board as an “emotional support animal” under Department of Transportation guidelines.

“We follow all DOT guidelines,” she said.

“Emotional support animals” have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to those guidelines.

In 2003, the DOT updated its policy regarding animals in air transportation to say “animals that assist persons with disabilities by providing emotional support” qualify as service animals.

It’s up to airline personnel to determine whether an animal is a service animal. They can do so by seeking “credible verbal assurances,” looking for physical indicators on the animal, such as a backup or identification tag, or by requesting documentation for service animals.

When it comes to emotional support animals, airlines may require supporting documentation from a mental health professional. The documentation should state that the passenger has a mental health-related disability and that “having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment or to assist the passenger.”

It is not clear whether the passenger on Wednesday’s flight provided such documentation.

6 comments

  • dont bogart my narrative

    ‘This is your Captain speaking – we have some good news and some bad news – good news, is you wont be flying in a cattle car this afternoon. Bad news is…’

  • Don

    The pig was interviewed afterward and said ‘I’m a little embarrassed about the emotional support role myself, but one has to consider his alternatives, it’s either this or being packaged as bacon, and airlines are far less cramped. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused’

  • Robin

    This article states: “It’s up to airline personnel to determine whether an animal is a service animal. They can do so by seeking “credible verbal assurances,” looking for physical indicators on the animal, such as a backup or identification tag, or by requesting documentation for service animals.” SORRY – there is no “documentation” required for a Service Animal, unlike an Emotional Support Animal. Read the ADA FAQ: http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm. They are not required to carry documentation or wear a collar, and all you are allowed to ask is if the dog is a service animal, and what task it is trained to perform for you. Fake service dogs can give real service dogs a bad name – please do not claim your dog is a service dog if you do not qualify and/or your dog is not trained to perform a specific, necessary task. An Emotional Support Animal does require documentation by a mental health professional, and does not have the right to full access that a Service Animal has. While there are places you can pay to get ESA documentation, again if your animal is not well trained it will make it hard for others who are truly in need of an animal like this.

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