Vail Daily letter: Pets on a plane
July 15, 2015
After reading about the successful Dog Day event benefiting the wonderful organization Canine Companions for Independence, I was reminded of all those who claim to have "service animals" or "emotional support animals" to strictly to avoid travel fees for pets.
Paying to travel with your beloved pet is part of responsible pet ownership. On a recent flight into EGE, I observed an elderly beagle, a barking Chihuahua mix, and a shih tzu all wearing "service animal vests" (which by the way can be purchased online by anyone with no documentation of the animal's credentials). Two "service dogs" were in first class and one in coach. Airlines are not allowed to ask if a service animal is legitimate, which causes abuse of the service animal rules.
Like it or not, traveling with pets is expensive. Avoiding the pet fees by claiming a dog as a service animal or emotional support animal is just flat-out shameful and no less evil than parking in handicap parking spaces without a permit or need. I would like to suggest that these cheaters send a donation the organization which trains and provides real service animals to people who actually need them. Air travel for a pet in cabin costs around $250 round trip. If cheaters can travel first class, they can donate $250 to an organization which trains real service animals. The talented and selfless people who train these dogs and then give them up so someone who needs a service animal do so on a voluntary basis deserve great praise and those who cheat to save a few bucks have a special place in … well … maybe a bite on the ankle would be a good reminder. But a real service animal won't bite.
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