Flying the Deaf Spaniel Crumudgeon – otherwise known as traveling with a large emotional service animal
Both of my dogs are technically Emotional Support Animals, which are similar but different from a service dogs.
An emotional support animal or ESA, is not trained to perform any function. Instead, they provide emotional support (it’s almost as if the title tells the purpose…) to their humans who suffer from psychological disorders of some kind. If you’ve read this blog for a long time, you’re probably not surprised to hear I have a psychological disorder… and though I probably do, I’ve never been officially diagnosed.
So how do I have ESA’s? Simply put, I paid for the paperwork. Before I moved to California, I got the number from a friend of a company that provides ESA paperwork to people if they qualify. It’s not that I thought the move was going to turn me into a crippling emotional mess who couldn’t function without her dogs (although shocker… that actually happened!), but really I wanted the paperwork for housing purposes. Almost all apartment complexes around the university only allowed small dogs, if they allowed pets at all. So my ESA paperwork allows me to keep my dogs with me in my apartment, and it also skirts the $50/month pet rent that I would have to pay in addition to the greatly inflated fee I already provide for living here.
Getting their paperwork was pretty simple. First, I filled out some forms about me, my emotional issues, and my dogs. Then I scheduled a phone interview with a counselor to determine if I was emotionally disabled. As it turns out, it’s shockingly easy to be considered emotionally disabled in the eyes of the government. If you had a traumatic experience that resulted in a 40% or more drop of productivity at work (check and check) – congratulations! You’re emotionally disabled.
I fit the bill, and then some. On the phone for my counseling session, I answered every question honestly. When he asked me the role that my dogs played in moving on after my husband’s death, I burst into tears… and I was not acting. Though I don’t need my dogs around me every minute of the day, it’s not a lie to say that they support me emotionally.
So how does all this relate to flying with Eliot? When I got the ESA paperwork for my dogs, I added the letter for airline travel for an extra $10. I figured it might be nice, but wasn’t sure if I’d ever fly with them. Truth be told, I was incredibly nervous about the idea of putting my dog on an airplane where there was no way to remove him from the situation if he couldn’t deal. But during the holidays, I changed my plans fairly last minute (in the world of finding dog boarding) to leave from Austin instead of Riverside. Pascale is easy to find someone to care for her, because she loves children and other dogs. Eliot hates both of those things, and guess what all my friends in Austin have?
Though I don’t really stress about traveling without a dog, I absolutely do stress about leaving them behind. The idea of a stranger with my dogs, or even them in a boarding care facility, gives me huge anxiety. With the ESA letter in my pocket for airline travel, I quickly said screw it and decided to bring Eliot with me.
Preparing to Fly
Before the trip, I bought Eliot a service animal dog vest from Amazon. This isn’t required, but for him it let him know he had to behave a certain way when wearing it (we practiced before) and for others it says please don’t mess with my dog — which is very helpful when your dog hates many people and especially children.
Even though Eliot is an ass hole, he’s a really well trained ass hole. A few days before our flight, I freshened up his sit/stay/come commands with hand signals since he’s lost all his hearing. We also practiced heeling whenever he wore the vest.
I also got a prescription of Xanax for him to help with nerves. He took small doses both flights, and I think it helped take the edge off.
At the Airport
I flew Southwest, which is a great airline for ESA animals (in my opinion). On our way out of Austin, I gave myself plenty of time. We got to the airport 2.5 hours early, and I had my printed out ESA letter in hand to show the staff. As soon as they saw Eliot, I got waived past the ticket machines and to the counter. I showed them my letter with my ID, and they did read it carefully so don’t think this is something you can use a 5 year old copy for or something half ass. After they accepted my paperwork, they printed out boarding passes for me with medical pre-boarding. With that, we checked our bags (I don’t suggest having a large carryon while trying to handle a big dog in an airport) and were on to security.
Pooping in the Airport…
Eliot is twelve, and has old man pooping issues. Despite only giving him a handful of food the night before and not feeding breakfast at all that day, he pooped in the airport … twice. Yes, it was embarrassing. But I cleaned it up immediately and thoroughly, and then went on with life. Some people stared, some people laughed but nobody knew the difference five minutes later. On the return flight, I didn’t feed really at all 24 hours in advance and we had 0 issues.
Getting Through Security
This part stressed me out, but it was incredibly easy. You go through the process of taking off shoes/loading items onto the belt just like you usually would, but instead of going through the giant zoomy super x-ray all your lady bits machine, you go through the smaller medical detector. The trick is, you can’t go through that with your dog. This is where our training comes in. I dropped Eliot’s leash in front of the machine, signaled him to stay, walked through, and signaled him to come when the TSA agent told me to. He was perfect both times.
Since a dog has metal on his collar/leash, the TSA agent will need to pat him down after. Most dogs will probably love this, because they are dogs, but Eliot is more of a disturbed emo teenager than a dog. The first TSA agent he liked, and the second he was afraid of so patting down was a little tricky. Still, nobody got upset and the agents were incredibly nice about the dog.
Other People in the Airport
Some people loved Eliot. He got compliments, people asking to pet him (nope sorry he sucks as a dog but sure does look pretty) and one person openly gasped when she saw him trot by. Other people rolled their eyes and were extremely annoyed about an animal sharing their space. I can see why though, there were dogs everywhere and it’s clear people (including me) are abusing the system.
We walked past one family with a tiny, yappy dog that was raising hell growling at people walking by. They spread a pee pad out in the middle of the airport, and tried to get the dog to pee while it wanted to eat everything. Those kind of dogs make me roll my eyes too.
The Actual Flight
With my medical pre-boarding, I was one of the first people to board. For two of my flights, this meant I got to sit in front row, bulkhead seat and Eliot could just lay down in front of me. For one of my flights this was already full by the time I got on, but the flight wasn’t packed so I was able to take an entire row to myself. That worked the best, because we sat in the very back of the plane and he laid down without bothering anyone.
I’m not sure I would ever fly any other airline than Southwest with a large ESA. Because people can pick their own seating, nobody came to sit next to me unless they already liked dogs. I would hate to be stuck to someone that hated them or was allergic. Bad situation for everyone.
Flying wise, Eliot was honestly a trooper. On the way there, he got restless two times during the flight. The first was because he was super thirsty (I was only giving tiny amounts of water so we didn’t have a pee issue), and he went back to sleep once I gave him some water. The second time, he needed to pee and I said he just had to wait.
On the way back, I realized that if he could see the other planes/cars in the terminal out of the window, he got a little worried. So I shut the shade until we were high up, and he slept the entire flight.
Now that it’s all over, I can tell you that my ESA did not help me relax during my flights. Was it fine? Yes. Was it super stressful? Also yes. I would fly Eliot again if the logistics pointed that way, but not for fun and not for a quick trip.
I would never fly with Pascale. She is a great dog (arguably better at dogging), but she has a lot of quirks/fears that would make flying a nightmare.
At the end of the day, I felt a little guilty doing this. I don’t need my dog to fly. I’m not truly medically disabled and in need of pre-boarding. On my flight home, a girl with a large ESA Labradoodle sat in the row across from me. She picked the middle seat to discourage people sitting next to her (full flight, didn’t work) and her dog encroached on their space the entire time.
I couldn’t say for sure if she needed that animal, just like nobody can say for sure if I needed mine. I’m not saying I’ll never fly with a dog again, but my current feels are that it’s a huge loophole that is getting taken advantage of.
What are your thoughts?
41 thoughts on “Flying the Deaf Spaniel Crumudgeon – otherwise known as traveling with a large emotional service animal”
It’s absolutely a system being taken advantage of and that makes me sad because I hope it never has a negative impact on those who do need their ESA or service dogs to travel/be in public. I’ve flown with Fin a number of times, but he flies as a pet, in his carrier, under my seat and I cough up the $100 to do it. I also try to let people know he’s there in case anyone has allergies or anything, but I’ve only ever had one person choose to sit elsewhere. He’s incredibly good at flying – he knows that when he’s in his ‘cube’, he sleeps and he’s already great about potty stuff as is (he stays home all day while I’m at work without an issue). Sometimes he gets to come out of his carrier and walk, if the airport is empty (I purposefully try to pick first thing AM or late night flights), and on a few occasions we’ve had the row to ourselves and he’s slept in the middle seat next to me without a problem. The second he starts to take too much interest in something other than me or sleep, he knows he goes back into his cube.
I really, really wish there was an option for larger dogs to travel as a pet. If I wanted to fly with either of my two as a simple pet, they’d have to go in cargo. That’s incredibly stressful for a dog, and I won’t put them through it. I realize why there’s not a large pet accommodation on planes, but if there were I’d gladly pay for it the few times I needed such a thing.
I actually think, at least on JetBlue, you just buy a ticket for your dog…that gets expensive but….
They do, but it’s capped at 20 lbs. Small dogs only.
I truly appreciate this post and your honesty in every way. I’ve thought about getting an ESA certificate for Chevy because I’m sure I’d pass with flying colors like you. But for what reason. I feel like you did this less for you, and more for him and that’s amazing and the fact that you’ve trained him so well even makes all of it more worth it. I see people carry their little yappy dogs or even have bigger dog with aggression issues who abuse the system… you my friend have not.
Very much agree that it’s being abused on the flights. Especially nowdays when everyone is literally packed in like a sardine – there are people who have valid anxieties over being around dogs, and I’d say the majority of people who take their “ESA” animal on a flight don’t have the same courtesy that you did of sharpening up their training skills beforehand. My husband is disabled (wheelchair user) and I’m a bit more sensitive to “actual” disabilities than I have been in the past – the last thing I would want to see is to make it harder for working service dogs to be taken on a flight with their person.
That being said, getting an ESA for housing is basically a necessity at this point and it’s ridiculous that it’s gotten this far. Pet rent? Are you f*king kidding me? Sorry, my pet doesn’t have a job and can’t afford “rent.” Do you charge extra rent for those 4 bratty kids next door? No? Then my cat can live with me for free too, thank you. Ugh it makes me FURIOUS.
I also recently stayed at a nice hotel and to my major annoyance had to deal with small children running around my floor… I would pay extra to be on a “kid-free” floor of a hotel. Apply the same to flights? Have certain flights that are designated animal-friendly and others that are animal-free? (And yes, I would pay extra to be on a “kid-free” flight as well.) Would only work on routes that have multiple flights available per day probably, but it’s a thought.
Pet rent is absolutely ridiculous, whether it’s a house or an apartment. We were asked to pay a double security deposit to have 2 dogs, because the homeowner really only wanted 1 dog max in the house, but they also were having trouble renting the house, since it was on the market toward the end of the year. Luckily, that is the brunt of the extra fees we were asked to pay, and we stand to get it back at the end of the lease. Also, it’s probably not the norm among renters with pets (which is probably the basis of the pet rent issue), but I’m pretty confident my pets do FAR LESS damage to the house itself than children would.
Interesting thoughts on designating flights with certain restrictions, etc. I kind of like it! I don’t mind having pets on my flights, but I want them to be quiet and not yip or whine the whole time (same goes for kids, lol).
while I dont agree with your decision to get an ESA to for housing and to fly a dog with aggression issues, I appreciate your honesty and candor. I think ESA’s are largely abused for the issues you mentioned and it is already starting to make life harder for actual service dogs.
Well said. Speaking from my own limited experience as a landlord, it’s very unpleasant to have people trying to skirt your pet policy with ESAs. Although my understanding is that the ESA rules don’t apply to very small-time landlords, it’s still unnerving to be *told* by an applicant that they don’t care about your rules or hardwood floors, and they are in some ways eager to push their legal boundaries with/against you.
Essentially what I’ve learned is tile, tile, tile…. build it in to the cost of doing business, screen carefully, and be ready for those dogs when the law obligates you to take them.
I love dogs and have one of my own. Still not comfortable seeing other people’s dogs at the grocery store though. (Is it really safe and/or necessary?)
Agree with every word…
I also agree that ESA has been very taken advantage of and I think the system really needs to be looked at thoroughly.
I have very, very strong feelings about ESAs, and I speak up when the topic comes up in real life. I feel like they are used mostly in situations where people do not want the laws to apply to them. And I think that is morally and ethically wrong, and inconsiderate to the public at large. I DO have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, for which I have been treated for 20 years. But my dog is not a therapy animal. He is my pet. And my desire to have him with me does not supersede the rights of other human beings around me. So he stays home. People pay 20K+ for therapy dogs that have been carefully selected, bred and trained to assist people with disabilities. And those who would abuse the system for their pet’s rights make a mockery of all that those people go through. And inevitably make the world a more challenging place for them.
My Bella is a trained and certified therapy dog, although she’s retired for the most part now at 10 years old. We’re on the waitlist for another bullmastiff and plan to do it again. We taught her to walk with individuals who are unsteady – brain injury, learning to walk with a prosthetic, etc – and serve as a walking aid. Much more fun than a walker 😉
Despite excellent manners, years of specialized training and the fact that we go out of her way to put her in a situation where people who don’t want to would HAVE to deal with her, it’s difficult to take her anywhere. After having spent quite a bit of time in parts of Europe where people take their dogs **everywhere**, it still blows my mind. I think that if we were more open to having dogs in public places, the standards for their conduct would be higher.
For the living situation, I don’t blame you. As a military family we move frequently and rent our homes. The vast majority of rental homes restrict pet weight. My dogs both have pet “resumes” with documentation of their training and references from vets & trainers. It still can be difficult. And honestly, my kid causes more damage.
I’m going to say ditto what a lot of others did. I have pretty severe – diagnosed – anxiety and people taking advantage of ESAs to get out of rules regarding having specific pets in apartments or at airports bothers me. Not so much for me personally but for people like me and others that truly do need their actually support animals to get through the stress of traveling/ life etc.
Getting an ESA for Elliot’s sake is nice and all and I can understand why you would want to be able to spare him from the stress of flying in the cargo compartment… but doing what you did and then saying you know the system is abused but you might still do it again doesn’t make it right. Especially when so many people abuse and continue to abuse this system. I just hope people doing this doesn’t adversely affect this option for people that are truly in need.
Thank you. This.
I agree that many areas of modern American life are hard and stressful and unfair to those of us with pets, especially large dogs. I am all in favor of improvements to those.
But undermining the stuff that protects people who actually depend on task-trained public-access service dogs to get through their daily activities and for quality of life, and the stuff that protects people that rely on ESAs for the support those dogs provide? Is not okay.
Really disappointing post to read.
Thank you, I am disabled and rely on my Service Dog for every day needs. I hope those taking advantage of this does not jeaprodize the needs of those who truly need a Service Dog or ESA.
So, I’m going to slightly disagree with most of the posts. While I DO think ESAs are being taken advantage of, I think that if everyone were as responsible as you were about flying with their pets, people wouldn’t care so much. I’ve always wanted to look into flying with my dog Stella. IMO, what do I care if someone flies with their dog as long as it is a well mannered and obedient dog. I would have been thrilled to sit next to you and Elliot. It would have helped me with my anxiety over flying. But that’s just me. And, unfortunately, most people aren’t as responsible as you were about the whole thing. Thanks for posting about this.
So, I wanted to respond to this with another perspective.
When my brother-in-law was a child, he had his ear ripped off by a neighbor’s dog. They were able to re-attach his ear to his head, but he has had a lifelong fear of dogs ever since.
Being seated next to a strange dog on a small plane, no matter how well behaved, would make him extremely uncomfortable. Should he have to experience this, because someone was unwilling to leave their dog at home, or find alternate, less convenient (longer or more expensive) means of travel?
I am quite sure that should he be placed in a seat next to a dog, the flight attendant would have happily reseated him.
If not, I think it’s definitely an issue with people bringing pets on the plane. But he could have been sat next to a “true” service dog and have the same predicament.
The dog has known aggression issues, and crapped twice in the airport. Hardly the epitome of responsible ownership.
I don’t think Eliot is allowed to wear a Service Dog vest, legally? Is he? I always thought ESAs had to wear vests that said “Support Animal” or something. The title of “service dog” is strictly reserved for trained service animals.
The whole ESA/ Service Dog thing highly irritates me. I wish it were harder to obtain the title of ESA, it would make the people who legit have an issue qualify and those trying to beat the system not be able to.
Regardless, I am glad you have Eliot to help you.
Yes, he should not be presented as a service dog when he is not. It’s breaking the law. In many states it’s a felony. Though technically service dogs do not have to be vested at all.
Seeing the system abused like this, when the person knows they are not disabled and that they are abusing the system is really maddening. I have friends who need legitimate service dogs due to diagnosed physical and psychiatric disabilities and when someone fakes a service dog it makes it that much harder for businesses/public places to believe some people have a legitimate need. It also confuses the public about the difference between service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs.
Slightly different topic, but I worked 4 years at an airline, and I don’t recall any of the dogs that flew cargo being especially stressed. The cats were always sedated, but not the dogs. Honestly, most seemed to look on it as a grand adventure. Being previously crate trained, they just napped.
That said, our airline kept them in a shaded, quiet area until closer to time to load on their flight. Or even back in the office if it was cold, because it was heated. Mail chickens went there, too.
I don’t recall ever seeing any personnel treat dogs other than respectfully and kindly. I can only speak to my work, but that’s what I experienced.
This is pretty interesting. A relative lives in a condo complex that also only allows small dogs. A neighbor got one one these ESA things to keep their aggressive untrained German Sheppard…. and there is nothing the condo complex can do about it. The dog is lunging at people and dogs. Like you, found a way around the rules. Not sure when society started this, but I don’t think it’s okay. I don’t care how well behaved the dog is.
I appreciate your honesty but I’m really disappointed that you thought this was ok.
Well, I’m going to jump into the fray here. When all the rules regarding an ESA were followed, I don’t see it as abusing the system. This is how the system was designed to function.
Also, I would feel hypocritical by criticizing Lauren. I wanted to keep my cat and I also did not want to pay the additional pet rent. Also my cat has his claws and the apartment only allowed declawed cats with additional pet rent, of course. So I lied and said that occasionally I watch my Mom’s cat. I then lived there for almost 6 years without paying the pet rent. I didn’t register my cat as an ESA but only because I didn’t realize that was an option.
I’m also surprised at how many dogs were at the airport and how many people have added stories of being on a flight with a person and their ESA. Maybe it is the area I’m from or the fact that I dont fly all that often but I’ve never seen an ESA at an airport.
Thank you Lauren for putting yourself out there and writing about your experience.
It is abusing the system if you don’t need the animal for emotional support but were able to tick x number of boxes on a checklist. Lauren had a complete disregard for the purpose of ESA’s, choosing to fly her dog because she felt uncomfortable leaving him in the care of somebody else/travelling him in cargo.
I appreciate your honesty on this topic. I have a small dog (under 10 pounds) that has flown with me twice in his carrier under my seat.
The second time he flew, I had to keep him in the carrier the entire flight which was stressful for him and for me. I had to sign a card that I would keep him in his carrier during the flight as well (this was on Delta). For a pet traveling in a carrier, they are technically not supposed to be out of their carrier inside the airport either.
While I love my dog and I think he is wonderful and he does help me emotionally, he’s not trained to be any type of support or service dog. So for me to label him as such to avoid paying $100 each way on a flight and have him be outside of a carrier, would be morally wrong and probably would not make me popular with other passengers on the plane. While he is a nice dog and likes most of the people we encounter, the airport is stressful to him and I don’t trust that at some point he would get upset and I wouldn’t be 100% confident that nothing bad would happen.
That said, I like many Americans I have some clinically diagnosed anxiety. Regardless of that fact, I can’t see getting my dog certified just so it’s more convenient for me when he is not a legitimately trained service animal. While it would make me feel better, I feel like it is abusing the system. Like anything, I believe your mileage may vary, but I feel like only certified service dogs should be with passengers on planes, unless in a carrier. So I’ll either pay $200 for my dog to fly, or leave him with someone both he and I trust.
I don’t know anything about ESA’s (in fact, I’d never heard of it before this post!) or about service dog qualifications, etc. I’ve only ever seen small dogs in airports, traveling as pets — which my in laws do all the time with their small dogs.
I do wish there was an option to travel with large dogs as pets, although I’m not sure I’d ever take either of mine on a plane unless it was a necessity, and I’d never put them in cargo unless it was a life or death situation.
Regardless, I really appreciate your honesty and candor on this topic and allowing everyone to voice their opinions in the comments — it’s given me a lot to think about!
I think owners are much more stressed out by dogs in cargo than most crate trained dogs are.
It is often more stressful for them going through the crowds in the airport, and the tension of the travelers x 1,000 people. The stares etc, then a ride with a bunch of nervous flier people, even if you the owner aren’t.
When they go cargo, they have limited contact with strangers. They are picked up pre-security, get another “car ride” delivered to their gate, and then have a long nap in the plane.
Do I think car travel is better than air for dogs? Yes.. but neither is it awful from the dog’s point of view. And Cargo is often less stresdful than riding with passengers and carryons crammed close.
I have no knowledge about ESAs or flying with animals, but this post and the comments have been really interesting to read! Thanks for sharing your personal experience!
Since my work often takes me flying, I spend a lot of time on planes with ESA’s (especially lately). While I appreciate your transparency, and find myself able to relate to your reasoning. It makes me very nervous to know that people are able to bring an animal of their own training into a already stressful and tight situation, when they can’t promise they’ve been trained for it. To me it takes away from the general perception of service animals in some ways. Obviously not referencing you or Elliott here, as I know you’ve put the training into him for this, but the process itself is what makes me nervous. Interesting responses on both sides of the table.
Can I ask more about your process for getting your dog approved as an ESA? I have extreme flight anxiety. Usually somewhat controlled with otc drugs and alcohol, obviously not the best solution. I’m betting flying with my dog in the cabin would really help.
If you are in need of an ESA, please talk with your mental health professional. Online counselors and online registries are scams. They will not hold any legal guidelines. Airlines are also getting smart about which “doctors” are from these online scams.
Great post! About 15 years ago I was moving to Alaska, I drove there from Massachusetts, because the only option was for my 30 pound dog was to ride in cargo. I opted to drive instead, I really wish there was a pet option for larger dogs to get their own seat!
I’ve had dogs for years, rented and paid through my nose to keep them (or foisted them on my parents until I got a place I could keep them with me at) and had never heard of ESA and what you could get around by having it until a couple years ago. I think it’s pretty horrible actually.
My kids both have issues and one of our doctors recommended thinking about getting an ESA for them. I ended up with a younger dog that in my own I’m putting through large amounts of training and set goals of canine good citizens exam before I would ever let the dog be registered. It would make life so much easier for me (and my kids) to just register him and be done with it but that seems like cheating the system. There should really be a monitoring system in place for ESA animals as well as required paperwork that was standardized throughout the states.
Eventually this will blow up on not just the people who are using it to scam but people (like my kids) who need an animal for support. We drive everywhere for our animals and I won’t make any travel plans where I have not considered my animals first. If it doesn’t work for them tough tookies for me I just don’t go.
Wow. Yes that’s insane. Dropping the lead? Patting down by strangers? Lack of food and little water and pills? I feel terrible for Elliot. It sounds like pandemonium in the airport. I think you hit nail on head that it wasn’t the best for either of you. U having to worry about his behaviour.. He could even get reported had he slipped up.. And Elliot dealing with all this. And that as an old man. Having to hold in urine. I hope he was ok after. I realise its tough travelling when you have delicate best friends. And housing..how do you justify two esa dogs? I imagone the landlord saying..errrr..you NEED both? Why? Do they do different things? Were they bought for that purpose? That would never fly here.. One animal maximum. Or one could certify a whole zoo with snakes Even were it to come over to the uk.. We would be allowed one per patient.. And never without as n official doctors diagnosis from at least a year back. here its a plain no.. No extra 50 dollars…lol..i wish!! I bribed a landlord once with 1000 pounds extra! For a cat! This is the UK and dogs are 99.9999% banned in rentals.. Regardless of certificates. And deaf too. So he couldn’t hear what’s coming.. No wonder he is unpredictable. Hopefully next time you can either drive or find a place/friend for Elliot without children or other animals in the home. X
I saw loads of fake vests at a disability expo here once.. It was crazy.. Even puppies and dogs that were air snapping and dragging over wheelchairs! Like irs not obvious..
This post is the epitome of entitlement and why people hate dog owners. Your dog is neither a legitimate ESA or service dog. Service dogs do not need to be drugged to go on an airplane, and they certainly are not aggressive or poop in the airport, TWICE. People like you make the lives of disabled harder than they already are.
I cannot believe the service dog fraud you have committed and on SO many levels. Your dog has NO right to wear a service dog cape. He is NOT a service dog for one and obviously he is not even an ESA. A service animal is trained to perform a specific physical task or tasks to assist it’s handler. They are not emotional support dogs. Nor are they therapy dogs who have no access whatsoever. There is NO comparison from a ESA to a highly trained service dog. Read your ADA and Fair Housing Act. You have admitted to lying to get the paperwork then bragged about it on your blog. Wow. What you have done is criminal and makes it that much harder for people with a physical disability to keep their public access. Still worse is that you have to medicate your dog for travel because he is aggressive towards people. Wow. Tell me, how is going to “help” you if he is drugged for his own anxiety? People who truly need a service dog to remain independent suffer because of people like you who lie about their ESA and bring their pet dogs into public who have no business being there. Delta has now put rules into place that are VERY restrictive due to people who pass off their pets as ESA’s and are negatively effecting handlers using a true service dog and ESA’s. In some cases not being able to travel with them at all. Service dog fraud and ESA fraud are a HUGE problem and you and anyone like you who lies about their pets are the main cause. Leave your pet dog at home, stop abusing the rules and stop promoting lying about it to gain access. I hope a Southwest employee sees your blog. FYI, you NEVER drop the lead of a service dog or ESA.