RHYS: I'm about to set off for some book tour events for my upcoming Molly book, TIME OF FOG AND FIRE. And as I think about airports and security and the whole ordeal of flying I remember the last time I stood in a security line. As I stood there I felt someone nudging my bottom. Not once, but repeatedly. I turned around ready to slap a face, and found a large black dog had been nosing me. And I mean a LARGE black dog, whose nose was level with my rear end. He was apparently being taken onto the flight as a therapy/emotional support/comfort animal. No jacket identifying him as such. Can you imagine what it would be like if you were in the next seat? He'd take up all your foot room. He'd knock over your coffee every time he tried to stand up and move around. Not to mention slobbering over your black pants.
This whole matter of bringing comfort/therapy animals onto flights has morphed into a joke. It takes one on-line form and the payment of a fee to be certified in need of a therapy animal when you fly. No real doctor visit or assessment by a psychology professional. And now everyone is using as a way to travel with a pet without paying the fee. Not just dogs and cats, but pot-bellied pigs, birds. To me this has become a safety hazard as well as an overwhelming nuisance. For every passenger who is really in need of the comfort of a small dog sitting on her lap there are ten who just want to get away with it.
what about fellow passengers who are highly allergic to pet dander? Are they to have an asthma attack because a large dog, or (even worse) a cat is leaning against them? And what about the risk of biting a small child, a crazed pig blocking the center aisle in the event of an emergency?
I see this attempt to flaunt rules all the time now. The other day I was in a supermarket when I met a woman with a dog on a leash. I told her pets were not allowed in food stores. She glared at me. "This is my therapy animal," she snapped.
"What is your problem? What kind of therapy does he deliver?" (when he's not sniffing around the cold cases) I asked.
"I have low blood pressure," she said indignantly. "if I faint, he barks."
"If you faint in a supermarket, there's a good chance people will notice as they step over you," I pointed out.
"Mind your own business," she replied.
"If he's a therapy dog where is his jacket that designates him as such? Where is his certification?" I went on.
"Just go away!" she shouted and walked off.
I talked with the manager who told me that they really can't do anything about pets in stores now for fear of lawsuits.
I feel sorry for those who genuinely need a therapy animal. they will feel the backlash from this misuse. what are your feelings? How would you react if a large dog was taking up your floorspace on a flight?