Support Animals Versus Allergies: Here We Go Again

“H ad an uncomfortable situation”, posted FlyerTalk member inpd. “Sitting in a bulk head on a DC-80. The person next to me has a largish dog on a leash and sits next to me and puts his dog under our legs.

“This wasn’t a guide dog, it was just a regular dog and the guy wasn’t blind or old (in his 20’s).

“Who do you write to, to complain about this. I had a dog hair allergy and if this is going to be common practice then adios AA. Of course no one wanted to swap seats with me … The dog was scary looking”…

…and the debate continues. Does a person with allergies to the fur of animals trump the passenger with an animal classified as a service dog or an emotional support animal?

As this latest situation occurred aboard an airplane operated by American Airlines, here is the official policy in general pertaining to service animals:

American Airlines and American Eagle® accept service animals used by persons with disabilities at no charge. An animal may accompany a customer with a disability in the aircraft cabin, provided the animal can be accommodated without obstructing an aisle or other area used for emergency evacuations.

If a service animal is disruptive or too large to fit under the seat or at the passenger’s feet without encroaching on another passenger’s space or protruding into the aisle, it will need to travel in a kennel (provided by the passenger) in the cargo hold. The kennel must meet IATA kennel and size requirements for the animal. Temperature restrictions apply to ensure the safety of the animal.

There is no charge for service animals used by customers with disabilities. However, credible verbal assurance that the animal is providing a service to assist with a disability will suffice should an inquiry be made.

View a list of animal relief areas at select airports. If your airport is not listed, please ask for directions or assistance at our ticket counter.

For information regarding working dogs, please see our Traveling With Pets page page.

Quarantine restrictions may apply. Your reservations agent or travel agent will be happy to check destination regulations for you.

“Emotional Support Animals? Documentation is required”, summarized FlyerTalk member FWAAA. “Service Animal? No documentation is required.”

If the dog was indeed under the legs of inpd, then was the dog not encroaching the passenger space of inpd? If so, then the dog should have been transported in a kennel in the cargo hold, according to the aforementioned official policy of American Airlines…

…but what if the passenger in question was following all of the guidelines of the official policy correctly with his dog? Do the allergies of inpd come into consideration here?

No, according to this article I posted on May 9 earlier this year:

  • Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility — such as an airport lounge or a hotel lobby, for example — they both should be accommodated by assigning them to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility, if it is at all possible.
  • Establishments which sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas — even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
  • People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons; treated less favorably than other patrons; or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. Additionally, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.
  • If a business — such as a hotel property — normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by himself or his service animal.
  • Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.


While not every bullet point found in the list above may apply to airlines, they do apply to such travel establishments as airport lounges and hotel properties…

…so with policies such as stated above — short of avoiding travel — what are the possible solutions to traveling with allergies?

This list of tips offered by WebMD should give you some relief if you have allergies :

  • Pack all the medications you will need in your purse or carry-on bag — something you will have at hand in the car, in your train seat, or on the flight. Bring a day’s worth of extra doses just in case you’re delayed.
  • Keep medications in their original packaging to avoid running afoul of the Transportation Security Administration if you’re flying. You should be allowed to check all types of medication through the security checkpoint. If it’s in three-ounce or smaller quantities, you can put it in a clear quart-sized bag as you do with shampoo and perfume — but give the meds their own bag, separate from cosmetics and other liquids. If your liquid or gel medications are in larger quantities, put them in a separate bag and declare them separately to the screener.
  • If you use dust-proof, zippered pillow covers at home, pack one for the pillow at your destination. It takes up little to no space in your suitcase. If you’re really expecting to encounter some dust mite problems while away, you can even fold up and pack your mattress cover — but that will take up more space.
  • If you have food allergies, pack acceptable snacks in your carry-on bag so you won’t have to take a chance on airline food or the options available in train stations, rest stops and airports.
  • Check the pollen counts at your destination — you can do that here or at an Internet web site dedicated to weather, for example.
  • The air in planes is particularly dry, so be sure your carry-on includes saline nasal spray — and use it once an hour to keep nasal passages moist.
  • If you have mold allergies, ask for a sunny, dry room away from the pool.
  • Ask about the hotel’s pet policy. Hotels cannot bar service animals for the reasons listed here; but if you have dander allergies, you probably don’t want to be staying in a hotel that advertises itself as pet-friendly or offers cats to borrow for the night.
  • If you’ll be staying in a rental home, inquire about how thoroughly the location is cleaned between guests.


Unfortunately, there are not many easy solutions currently available — although the good news is that more and more companies in the travel industry are addressing the issue of customers with allergies.

Perhaps one potential solution is to crack down on what could be considered possible abuse of the designation of unqualified pets as service animals or emotional support animals in order to avoid paying extra charges or have their pets relegated into the cargo hold?

To complicate matters, there are distinct differences between service animals and animals used to provide their owners “emotional support.”

The official definition of a service animal — according to the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice of the United States pertaining to the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA — is as follows:

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.

Additionally, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered — unless these devices interfere with the intended work of the service animal or the disability of the individual prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Unfortunately, it appears that all that employees of an airline — whether aboard an airplane or in a lounge at an airport — could do is ask two questions:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?


When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, the employee of an airline cannot without violating federal law:

  • Ask about the nature of the disability of the person
  • Require medical documentation
  • Require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog; or
  • Ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task


An emotional support animal is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit to an individual designated with a disability — such as depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks or anxiety as only a few of many examples. While only dogs — and, in a separate provision which need not be discussed here, miniature horses — can be officially designated as service animals, emotional support animals can also be cats and other animals as prescribed by a physician or other medical professional if the owner of the animal has a verifiable disability in accordance with federal law of the United States.

“I can confirm that few of these animals, in my experience, exhibit the demeanor of one with service training; however, ESAs are not required to have training. Their ‘mere presence’ can be the therapy, according to the powers that be”, Sarah Steegar — who is a flight attendant as well as the author of the Crewed Talk weblog at FlyerTalk — wrote in this article. “…if I’d ever had a situation where we literally ‘knew’ the ESA claim was bogus, the answer has to be no. We are well-trained to know that not all disabilities are visible. Between that very real fact and the situation that the bar for a ‘legitimate’ ESA is actually so low (it’s down to a prescription, basically), there is literally no way to know, short of passenger confession, that a particular ESA claim is fake.”

I will defer to Sarah Steegar as to the possible solution and her thoughts on this issue based on her experience: “I think the only way to rein in the problem is for airlines to tighten up ESA-acceptance. Some form of training (even if it just certifies appropriate public behavior) would be helpful, as would restricting the size or type of animals accepted. Airlines lose fees on ESA scammers, and passengers and crews are both annoyed, so I don’t really understand why they haven’t already done this – unless there’s some complication that I haven’t seen spelled out. So far, I’ve been told it’s simply “not high on the priority list.” Unless someone can demonstrate that airlines are losing revenue through the ESA claims or unless another passenger gets hurt by (and inevitably sues) a non-trained ESA animal, the problem will get little more action than eye rolls.”

In this particular case, it would seem to me that inpd should have not had to deal with the inconvenience and discomfort of having to deal with the dog — unless it was a legitimate service animal…

…and even then, what is the difference of having a large animal encroaching upon your personal space aboard an airplane as opposed to an obese person infringing upon your personal space?

I look forward to reading your comments below…

82 thoughts on “Support Animals Versus Allergies: Here We Go Again”



    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is a good question, PHYLLIS STEWART-RUFFIN.

      I am not sure; but I believe it is a matter of contacting the airline or Amtrak prior to travel — as well as alerting the members of the crew aboard the airplane and the train.

      Hopefully, a reader of The Gate who suffers from asthma and allergies can better address and answer your question than I can.

    2. Daisy K says:

      And why is my allergy (I also have an asthmatic reaction to dogs) less important than someone’s peanut allergy? Peanuts have been BANNED because the allergy can kill. But an animal allergy is laughed at.

      1. Jay says:

        Great question. I have to travel next week and I am not looking forward to it because I have to stay in a hotel room where there may have been a cat or dog. Last year, I had to rent a car while my car was in the shop. There was pet dander in the car and I had to rush to the emergency room because my throat closed up and I had an asthma attack. I just don’t know what to do anymore, it’s like pets are taking over or excuse me service animals are taking over, because we all know that every service animal is really a service animal. It’s like animals are given more regard than human beings. It’s just not right. I’m paying good money to fly and stay in a room. Your animal is not paying a dime.

        1. Jan says:

          Federal legislation to protect animal-allergic people is the *ONLY* answer to this. Animal-allergic people are now treated as second class citizens.

          1. THOMAS W WRIGHT says:

            Sad, but true.

            There is a large lobby for animals, there is no lobby for animal allergies. Our congressmen and women know where their bread is buttered.

      2. Robert L. Bridges says:

        Daisy K. An Anaphylaxis, a life threating reaction can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen , peanuts, lactose, tree nuts are FOOD allergies. Symptoms include a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and shock and If not treated right away, usually with epinephrine, it can result in unconsciousness or death. I carry epinephrine auto injectors ( EpiPens) on my person when I am out in public as peanuts, tree nuts & lactose are in fact FOOD substances that do cause anaphylaxis reactions. There are six different canine allergens – Two allergens, abbreviated as Can f1 and Can f2, are the majority of dog allergens. 45% of dog allergic people react to Can f1 alone.
        25% react to both Can F1 and F2. You May be reacting to Can f1 but I am not a specialist in this area.
        Summery : I Need immediate medical care in the form of an epinphine injection as there is a risk of death from peanuts, tree nuts and lactose while all YOU need is to use a wet wipe or be separated from that dog. 1 anaphylatic reaction is 1 to many. That is why my peanut allergy is more important and also why I carry my EpiPens on my person when in public.

        1. Jaime S says:

          Incorrect – if I am exposed to cats in an enclosed space, I may very well need an epinephrine injection. Once I am no longer around the animal, I can be sick for DAYS with miserable or even life threatening symptoms. Sorry, my allergies will laugh at your “wet wipe.”

          Anyway, why pit allergy sufferers against each other? The “My allergies are worse than yours” mentality is silly and childish.

          I once stayed at a hotel that, unbeknownst to me, allowed pets. There was no signage or indication to me that the room had previous been occupied by someone with a cat. I knew it in the middle of the night though, when I woke up with hives and was unable to breathe. The front desk person that called the ambulance, while sympathetic, said that “pets are allowed” in all their rooms, and that basically it was MY problem that I became ill.

          How is it that the needs of dogs and cats have become more important than the needs of humans?

          1. Angela says:

            You could of sued said hotel while they said that is your fault for the allergy they have to make known that it is pet friendly. They should be liable for the trip to hospital and your lodging as a result.

          2. Mike says:

            Bottom line is if you have a medical issue you carry medication. If you did not have medication you would have to live inside a bubble and never leave home. I have a service dog which is my medication. My wife has allergies to nickel and seafood and she carries medication and epi-pen because bottom line you will never be able to avoid having a reaction. Animals are everywhere strays, pets and working animals. If you expect the hotel to never have any animal in it then we should also expect that nobody is able to bring peanuts, seafood, nickel items, etc etc etc the list of what people are allergic to goes on and on. Reality is it will never happen you just have to leave home prepared with your medication. Just as my wife can not expect the guest who stayed in the room prior did not order seafood for room service and it dripped all over the furniture as the juice and residue alone will cause her to break out. Maybe the guest prior was eatting nuts in the bed and there is nut dust and crumbs spread all over the room and stuck in the carpet. Just prepare yourself anytime you leave home and realise your not the only one with a medical issue.

        2. James T says:

          Just for your information, i have an allergic reaction to animal dander which includes dogs cats and any haired animal and when in the same area as the animal it will cause me to suffer an asthma attack which is closing of the airways and not able to breathe unless i use a rescue inhaler and get away from them. They can be bad enough to cause me to have been treated with epi and breathing treatments. As a paramedic i can asure you these can be life threatening reactions no less than your peanut allergy. When you cant breate that a life threatening event . The dander from the animal reacts much quicker than your peanut allergy. You must come in contact with it , asorb or injest it where as inhalation of it will not set off your allergy, but mine inhale of it or touch / contact will set mine off . I lived with this 55 yrs , the pets need to go below plane in cargo hold or on a different plane . A himans life is far more important than any animals life . Whete have my rights to breathe without an issue when i travel. I dont cant have peanuts while on a plane when you are aboard then its the same with me , no animals on plane when i am aboard. My civil rights are as much imyas the animal rights people have, except humans come first not the animal .

      3. Mike says:

        The reason for that is peanuts are not medication but if they were then peanuts would never be banded. A service animal and/or ESA is concidered a medication for someone with a disability. If airlines were to start banning service dogs they would also have to ban anyone with allergies from any aircraft because an aircraft will never be guaranteed allergy free. Even if dogs were banned who is to say your seatmate did not just rub and get licked all over by their dog before sitting next to you on the plane? therefor if you have a disability should carry your medication. If your alergitic to dog you probally have a medication you always carry because animals are everywhere. What makes that different from a person having one of many disabilities that a dog is their medication? Why should that passenger deserve not to fly with their medication? Airlines can only do what they can to reduce problems but they can not deny any passenger to fly with their medication which service dogs are considered regardless of personal beliefs.

        1. Marvin says:

          A service dog is a highly trained animal – it is not a pet.

          The majority of people who travel with dogs in the cabin of an airline do so in order to save the cost of paying for the dog to be in the hold. These people are selfish and mean. Animals/Human cohabitation ended in the Middle ages.
          The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

          1. Mike says:

            I agree with you that many people do abuse the system and those that abuse it normally have bad dogs that bite, bark and/or use the bathroom on the plane destroy it for those with a valid reason traveling with well behaved trained dogs. I would not say the peolr that abuse the system are mean they just don’t trust the airline with they furry family members in the cargo hold. Yes they save some money but most people abuse the system for the safety of their dogs as cargo dogs become extremely stressed and many occasions die from heat stroke. You are correct ESA are not recognised by ADA but they still require a doctor’s prescription. ESA is still concidered medication for a medical need (regardless if the person is lying about that need or not) and the requirements to travel with an ESA are much stricter then they are for a trained service dog. ESA require a doctors letter along with 2 other documents while a trained service dog only requires no paperwork or sometimes at the very least a single letter from a vet showing the dog has received a rabies shot. My dog has been on over 38 domestic flights and 4 international flights (we just returned from Cuba 2 days ago) she used to travel as my ESA but as of 5 months ago she has now officially reached the training level to become my official service dog. Our flight from Hawaii to Miami then Miami to Cuba and return required much less paperwork and verification as a service dog compared to when she was an ESA. The only difference is I can now proudly say with confidence she is my official service dog and fully covered by all of the ADA laws. I am not required to show the airlines a single medical document to validate my disability unlike an ESA where it is required. In the past as an ESA my Medical documentation came from my actual doctor that I frequently visit in person, most others sadly just pay online company fill out a form and get a doctors letter without ever visiting the doctor in person and sadly many times they do lie on the online form just to validate a medical need so they can travel and/or live in apartments that do not accept pets but must accept ESA.

    3. Jan says:

      It’s as if people who are allergic to animals are now second class citizens. No one cares that we cannot breathe around animals. It’s not ‘just’ getting a runny nose. Some people could get either severe asthma attacks or anaphylaxis, which both can bring on immediate death; even with immediate treatment.

    4. THOMAS W WRIGHT says:

      ANY argument that Bill, because of his disability, has a right to injure Tom is obscene on it’s face. The fact that the US Congress established this obscenity is a further affront to the liberty and dignity of all Americans.

  2. daphne says:

    I work in a public place. I am not allergic to most service dogs however this particular customer has a dog that I am extremely allergic to. I asked the customer if he could allow another worker to serve him. He got a bad attitude. Again he comes to my work and demands that I service him. I got another employee to service the customer. He complained I was rude for not providing service. this man is in his late 20’s he has no defects or disabilities (maybe mental or emotional but not physical). He was accompanied by his wife and small daughter. There was really no need for his dog to come to the establishment other than this person enforcing his rights to have a dog. When I told him I was allergic to his dog he said “bullshit” his wife asked that he not repeat it and he said “that’s bullshit” a second time.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      If pet owners expect to be treated with respect, so should the people they affect, daphne — especially people who are allergic to animals. Consideration should be exercised both ways.

      There is no excuse for rudeness and profanity; and there is no reason why we all cannot do what we can to coexist peacefully.

      1. Mark says:

        Should’ve kicked his stupid loser dog right in its face

        1. l says:

          wow mark you sound like you have some serious anger issues, try kicking my dog and you’ll pull back a stump and I’ll slam you in the ground.

        2. Robert L. Bridges says:

          Mark, YOU kick my trained Service Dog in the face & YOU will be attested and go to Jail & in court get fined for : animal abuse, interfering with a Service Dog Team and whatever else I ask my attorney to charge you with including a Federal ADA charge of discrimination. I do agree with Brian – it is a 2 way street but in MY case I do have a trained Service Dog but I will give courtesy & respect in return for courtesy & respect. Summery : Federal prison is not fun.

        3. Bennie says:

          Good one Mark, I’ll help hold the mutt while you launch it.

    2. Servicemyassanimals says:


      Please go to any indian grocery shop (from india) and get some good chili powder (ask the store owner for the super spicy). Gently spread the powder around that BS dog owner service area….believe me,,,it will do wonders next time after he clears all the dogshit 😉

      Be a gentlewoman and don’t ever take any bull manure from the morons

      I do that all the time when I fly and the airlines yet to find the magic powder…..hehheheheheh

      1. L says:

        Servicemyassanimals You’re a horrible POS excuse of a human, advocating harming innocent animals for your own shits & giggles w/some lame attempt to being superior to others.

    3. Jay says:

      Wow, that really angers me. No regard for human beings.

    4. Jan says:

      Daphne, I know my reply will be ridiculously outdated, but I’m sorry you were mistreated by that guy. Because every situation cannot be solved or understood by non-allergic people, federal legislation is the only answer. God Bless You!

  3. Kam says:

    I have a major cat allergy. I was seated in the same row as someone with a cat. When I inquired with the flight attendant they moved the catime person. I offered to buy him a drink but the FA said she already took care of him. Turned out to be no big deal.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Compromise, compassion and cooperation usually renders what could potentially be a major issue into no big deal, Kam.

      I am glad what could have become an incident worked out in your favor — and kudos to you for offering to buy a drink for the fellow passenger.

    2. Jaime S says:

      That’s terrific that is worked out well. Win win!

      Being allergic to cats is AWFUL. What’s worse is that if you tell people you have cat allergy, they immediately think that you dislike or even hate cats. Nothing could be further from the truth. I jokingly told my husband that if I weren’t allergic to cats I would have 100 of them. I *love* cats and would absolutely love to have one. They don’t love me back though….

      1. Jan says:

        Jaime S., animal owners do not really care if you like animals or not. They will *never* have an understanding about animal allergies. Federal legislation is the only answer to help animal-allergic people, who are currently being treated as second class citizens by *every* business. It is hard for anyone else to have compassion for those who suffer from a disease they themselves do not have. Even if it can kill.

  4. Caroline says:

    PTSD dogs are not emotional support dogs. They perform a service, and are Service animals. My German Shep does crowd control when I’m having an attach by gently pushing people away using her side. She also sits by me until I’m able to regain control. When she smells the chemicals change in my body, she will bark at me so I can find a quiet place. That is a service. Please know the difference.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      This is what I found at the official Internet web site of the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, Caroline:

      “Owning a dog can lift your mood or help you feel less stressed. Dogs can help people feel better by providing companionship. All dog owners, including those who have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can experience these benefits.

      “Clinically, there is not enough research yet to know if dogs actually help treat PTSD and its symptoms. Evidence-based therapies and medications for PTSD are supported by research. We encourage you to learn more about these treatments because it is difficult to draw strong conclusions from the few studies on dogs and PTSD that have been done.”

      The article is rather detailed:

      I do not doubt that your dog performs a valuable service for you; and I am sad to learn that you suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder and wish you all of the best…

      …but I am not qualified, knowledgeable or experienced enough to definitively determine and publicly state that dogs such as yours do indeed qualify for service animal status; and until there is enough clinical research to know if dogs actually help treat PTSD and its symptoms, I cannot contradict the information which is currently available.

      That does not mean that you should not continue getting the word out about your experiences and champion the effort to include PTSD dogs under the official definition as service animals, Caroline.

      Thank you for sharing that information. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know…

      1. Elle says:

        I am really a bit confused as to your stating that PTSD service dogs are NOT under the official definition given that they are specifically listed AS service animals in the quote you posted from the DOJ brief on service animals:

        “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications,

        —–calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, ——–

        or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

        But maybe you are no longer confused on the topic as it appears that this article is older, so perhaps you’ve been informed and/or read the DOJ brief that you quoted above. The VA doesn’t define what is or is not a disability or what is or is not a service animal. Just because they haven’t studied it doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate service dog, as evidenced by the DOJ specifically mentioning PTSD service dogs in their service animal brief.

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          A dog which is officially a legitimate service animal trained specifically for calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during an anxiety attack is different from an animal classified unofficially as an “emotional support animal”, Elle.

          The article clearly states the differences between a service dog and an “emotional support animal” — and one of those differences is what you quoted: “Service animals are working animals, not pets.”

          While there may be passengers who travel with “emotional support animals” for legitimate reasons, there are many passengers who simply use their family pets to “designate” them as “emotional support animals” just to save on paying for airfare for their pets — and that constitutes fraud, in my opinion.

          There is no confusion on my part.

        2. Gail says:

          Many emotional support dogs such as this used for PTSD are not specifically trained as the definition says. Think about the training a seeing eye dog goes through.

      2. Jane says:

        Service dogs do not “treat” an illness or injury or disability. They perform tasks to help the disabled person function. Seeing eye dogs help lead sight impaired people. Dogs can alert hearing impaired people to sounds. They can pick up dropped items for a person in a wheel chair. They can detect high or low blood sugar or an oncoming seizure. They can distract a person from self harming behaviors or insist a depressed person get out if bed when their alarm sounds.

        It’s not treatment, a crutch doesn’t heal a broken leg, it just allows a person to be mobile using just one leg.

    2. W says:

      That is terrific for you, but now your service dog has caused me harm by pushing me away by causing me to have severe hives and an asthma attack. Does this mean that I get to find a way to deal with my issue that causes someone else an issue that I can not care about at all?

    3. Kevin says:

      I’m glad you have helped define this discussion, Caroline. It’s understood in my family that PTSD is very serious, sometimes life-destroying. Do you think there’s a way to protect people with very serious allergies, particularly where dog dander is a trigger for a full-on asthma attack?

    4. Elena says:

      CAROLINE, so your dog would invade my space by pushing me away, effectively terrorizing me (as someone with a severe phobia of dogs)? Now why does your anxiety take precedence over my anxiety? I may not have fought in a war, but I save lives in other ways (as a surgeon).

    5. Jan says:

      I don’t know if this will help or not, but please don’t take offense to this. An emotional attack, to the best of my knowledge, cannot kill. Can it? I could be wrong. However, anaphylaxis can kill.

  5. Sabra says:

    Stop getting into hypothetical research claims. According to the ADA, if the dog perform a specific task like isolating the handler from people, alerting the handler to an anxiety attack, and so forth, that is a service dog because the dog is performing a task to mitigate a psychiatric disability. If the dog performs a task to mitigate a disability whether that disability is is a cool or mental, that dog is a service dog. And emotional support dog is different because that dog is not trained to perform a task. That dog may keep you calm through companionship. And emotional support animal can be any animal where as a service animal can only be a dog or a miniature horse. If you have PTSD, you could have an emotional support animal or a service animal depending on the situation. If the dog just keeps you COM through companionship, it is any motional support dog, but if that dog mitigate your PTSD by alerting you to attacks, pushing people away from you, and bringing you to a quiet place when you can’t function well enough, It is a service dog. If any dog is trained to perform a task to mitigate a disability regardless of what that disability is, it is a service dog. It may be confusing, but you need to stop thinking about whether the disability is psychiatric or not. You need to think of it in terms of whether the dog is performing a task, or whether the dog has been prescribed to calm through companionship. It is true that the Americans with disabilities act does not require documentation because businesses would really take advantage and leave disabled service dog handlers waiting outside until employee could look at an ID. People love power, and businesses would love to exert power over disabled handlers in this way. However, the Americans with disabilities act does not apply on airplanes. The air carrier access act applies on airplanes, and an airline can request documentation under the air carrier access act. This is because it wouldn’t create a situation where a person with a disability is basically marginalized by having to show an ID everywhere they go. I think it is possible to accommodate both disabilities. If you have a dog allergy, it would be considered a disability, and if you are not being accommodated effectively, you have the same rights under the ADA, fair housing act, and air carrier access act. If you encounter service dog handlers this seem suspicious of you and your legitimate dog allergy, don’t be offended. A lot of people lie and say they have dog allergies because they think it will get them out of including a service dog in their business and so forth. Remember that for every one person who has legitimate dog allergies, there are 10 others who are lying about the issue just because they don’t want a person with a disability and their service dog in their establishment.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I simply reiterated the official definition of a service dog as cited by the federal government of the United States, Sabra.

      As for my adamant stance on the matter, my whole point with the series of articles which I wrote pertains to those who abuse the system just to get away with transporting their pets without having to pay for them to travel — not to those who have a legitimate need…

      …and I do not recall ever intentionally dismissing a legitimate need for a service dog merely because the disability is not physical.

      1. Robert L. Bridges says:

        Brain Cohen . sorry but you quoted the Dept of Veterans a=Affiars & last time I checked the Dept of Justice is also FEDERAL as is the ADA FEDERAL. Per ADA – a person with a dog allergy & a person with a Service Dog – BOTH can be accommodated. For the record , Brian Cohen – my DISABILITIES are not physical so are YOU saying that I do not need a Service Dog based on YOUR criteria ??

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          To repeat what I wrote: “As for my adamant stance on the matter, my whole point with the series of articles which I wrote pertains to those who abuse the system just to get away with transporting their pets without having to pay for them to travel — not to those who have a legitimate need…

          …and I do not recall ever intentionally dismissing a legitimate need for a service dog merely because the disability is not physical.”

          So no, Robert L. Bridges, I am not saying — nor have I ever said — that you or anyone else does not need a service dog as long as the purpose is legitimate…

          …regardless of whether or not the genuine disability is physical.

          If, however, you are knowingly and purposely abusing the system, then you better believe that I have an issue with that…

  6. Sabra says:

    It is odd though because these laws have been in effect for almost 26 years and people still don’t know the difference between a service dog and any motional support animal.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …which is why I reiterated those differences as clearly as possible in multiple articles, Sabra.

      You and I are probably more in agreement on this issue of service dogs versus emotional support animals than you might believe…

  7. sandy says:

    I so appreciate this article because I have a TRAINED service dog. She is a large dog, but she is trained to curl up into the space we have. I know that if we have a bulkhead she is best because she will stay in our seat space even on a tiny plane. I won’t book a flight unless we can have a bulkhead window. I also travel with a t-shirt for her because if the person next to me is allergic the t-shirt will actually help immensely with them not being bothered by her dander. I am always so angry by people who have dogs they travel with and don’t respect other passengers. I also must add, that all of the flight attendants are amazed that she just goes directly to her spot and stays on her blanket regardless of the length of the flight, or the amount of space that she has available to her. If anyone would like to explore this issue further, please contact me because I would love to be an advocate for passengers who have allergies or shouldn’t have their leg space invaded by a service dog.

    1. Judy says:

      Thanks for your message Sandy. I’m terribly allergic to cats and all of this “emotional service animal” garbage, and I only say garbage because soooo many people are abusing the service animal title to do what they want rather than for an actual need, has caused me plenty of issues. It was nice to see a note from someone considerate of those of us with respiratory challenges. I appreciate your efforts to make the people around you more comfortable.

    2. Jay says:

      Sandy, would you feel discriminated against if hotels only allowed people with animals (whether service or pet) on certain floors? Or if they had certain airplanes for pets? I’m still recovering from when I had a rental car that had pet dander and had to go to the hospital. My breathing hasn’t been the same for 1 and 1/2 years. And oh my goodness I’m crying just thinking about it now… it sucks to actually have to notice myself breathing. Something that should be so natural for me, but I notice every single breath. Anyways, my concern at the hotel is that the pet dander may be left over in the room, and maybe even in the vents. I just don’t think that secluding animals to certain floors is considered discrimination because other people have to be considered.

      1. Jan says:

        Jay, non-animal-allergic people will *NEVER understand*. It’s time for animal-allergic people to start calling their federal congressional representatives & senators to demand equal rights. The A.D.A. act is *NOT* being fairly applied; and businesses are not making exceptions for people with respiratory diseases or life-threatening allergies.

        1. Jay says:

          I live in Florida and I’m going to write a letter this weekend. Every time I have an allergy attack, I find my way back to this post.

  8. Christina says:

    I don’t deny that some animals do some good for some people. HOWEVER, 2 of my kids have extreme dander allergies (and yes they can eat peanuts and gluten). We did not realize until 2 hours into an 11 hour flight that the sudden coughing fits were really asthma brought on by the cat seated in the row in front of us. Hives and swollen/black eyes followed. I now travel with Benadryl pills that i can mush up (children’s liquid bottle size exceed FAA regulations), as well as a rescue inhaler to share. With all these people being kicked off flights for no reason, I am afraid to speak up, but I wish animal owners understood the implications of their pets being on board and at least let people around them know that Fido is under the seat. And I shouldn’t be afraid of being kicked off the flight for requesting a seat farther away from the animal.
    For some reason, old-fashioned “seeing-eye dog” owners don’t cause the same issues and are much more socially responsible than people who call their spoiled pets “service animals”. -in fact, in my neighborhood, they seem to be the only ones that properly “curb” their dogs in the gutter.

  9. Brandy says:

    Christina I agree with you . I have 5 kids the youngest has sever issues do to dog dander . Why is her health less then the person that uses a dog ? They wouldn’t die without there dog but my child can by having to deal with one that we can’t get away from . Like on a plane . At Disneyland we had a issue after a person had a dog in a backpack and left hair all over the ride . Her eyes swelled and it was enough to make us leave the park . Why can we not ask for proof ? Why is my or my kids health not more of a consern . I don’t mind proving she has sever allergies why don’t they have to do the same ? I AM ASKING THAT ALL SEEVICE DOGS HAVE ID . That all people using a service dog have to show proof or certification that there dog is a trained service dog . I have wal mart for all the fakes there with there house pets . I am just totally fed up . At this point with my 2 year olds heath issues i can only hope someone that matters takes up a fight to get this changed and a way to charge fakers that can show that there dog is a trained service dog .

  10. W says:

    I feel like the situation in the world today is that if I book a flight and so does a blind person with a seeing eye dog or someone with PTSD does, my possible death from being in a recycled air pressure chamber is less of an issue than either of them being inconvenienced for a short time. My allergies don’t care what your animal is doing, only that it is an animal. When will issues like this be addressed?

    1. L. says:

      Not having a service dog with them is much more than an inconvenience, what if it’s a medical alert dog? That’s life or death. If you have that severe of allergies do you not travel with emergency medications? Many people are allergic to perfumes, should airlines require people to not wear any? Should they have showers in the terminals to make people wearing perfume decontaminate? (actually yes since too many bathe in the stuff) Are your allergies to dogs more important than one to perfumes? I’m betting more people are bothered by the overabundance of perfume than dog dander. What happens if there was a dog in your isle the flight before? Sure they clean but they don’t decontaminate. What if I was seated next to you & I hugged my dogs that were in the car when I was dropped off, I’d probably trigger you if you’re that sensitive to a dog a few isles up. I get it’s dangerous for you but there are medical interventions you could take to protect yourself. Maybe airlines need to offer allergy free flights or would you not be willing to not have so many options available to you?

      1. Jay says:

        L. lots of sarcasm here… but only the last thing you said matter and proves our point…

        “Maybe airlines need to offer allergy free flights or would you not be willing to not have so many options available to you?”

        We’d love that, L. We allergy suffererers would love allergy free flights l, hotel rooms, rental cars, etc. It’s the pet and service animal owners who are not willing to compromise – they cry discrimination, thus the ADA classification. Bottom line… Human beings with allergies need to be considered. And we aren’t.

        1. Jan says:

          Jay, They. Do. Not. Care.
          *Only* specific federal legislation will help. Sometimes compassion; and action, *must be legislated*!

      2. Angela says:

        The flight’s with separate planes is a good idea but my asthma and pet allergies are triggered. Y cats and dogs. While some are eligible for immunological therapies some that have respiratory disease or muscular dystrophy or other health concerns can not.

        For those of us with the condition do you think we do not ask. I have one of the top Immunologist in the country he writes emphatic letters. As does my pulmonologist. I think that it is going to come down to separate flights. And or law suits.

      3. Jan says:

        L., it is *NEVER* a *GUARENTEED* outcome, that a person having an asthmatic or anaphylaxis attack will be saved by medicine. It is just not 100% effective.
        Could you live with knowing someone died as a direct result of exposure to your animal?

        1. L says:

          Jan, there are *NO* **GUARANTEES*** in anything we do in life. The airline could decide you’re not flying with them and have you yanked off the plane violently. You could get into a cab that just had a cat person in it and die before getting on the plane. I am betting more dogs have died flying in the cargo hold than people not responding to their medications inside the plane.
          The only way I’d feel horrible about my dog killing someone would be if they attacked them, I would not fault them for just existing, but if someone close to me was allergic I would be willing to move as long as there would be room for both of us.

    2. Dawn Graziano says:

      I’m with you.
      I respect that some people, such in the case of blindness, require a service animal however feel that the issue of ES, emotional support animals is quite a different issue.

      There is little or no document required and as fees have been waived people are now completely abusing this issue.

      I have severely and deadly asthma.
      What are my rights? I book in advance and do everything possible to try to avoid this situation but there is nothing I can do.

      Another passenger on a plane can be sitting 2 rows down without my knowledge and I can die. I can tolerate some small non-allergic dogs but cannot be in a room with a cat for 5 minutes. I constantly ask if there are pets booked and once boarded if anyone has boarded with a pet without booking. I will move as far as possible but as others have noted the dander and hair is flowing trough the air system.

      Maybe if someone like myself dies from a severe asthma attack and the airline is sued, they will finally take this serious.

      These people who say, take your medication do not understand.
      It is not a matter of itchy eyes and a runny nose. My bronchial tubes close and I get mucus plugs that stop my breathing. There is no medication to take. When you are experiencing a severe asthma attack you must get immediate medical attention and an immediate injection of epinephrine. I travel with an EPI pen however it is very dangerous to take and you must seeks immediate medical attention once taken. You can have a heart attack. Now the price of EPI pens has sky rocketed to $500.00 so I can no longer renew the EPI pen annually to keep on hand for air travel.

      I am only asking for some understanding and compassion here for those with severe allergies and asthma., as I understand the need for service dogs.
      It is the issue of ES,A emotional support animals and the laxed regulations by the airlines that has the situation now out of control.
      I am willing to book in advance to ensure my safety.

      There must be a way to work together on this issue.
      What can be done?
      Is there a petition?
      We need to do something.

      It has gotten to the point that I can no longer travel by air.

  11. art Fullwy says:

    Here is evidence that service dogs help vets with PTSD

    1. Mike L says:

      Here is evidence that “emotional support animals” should not be allowed on planes

    2. Jay says:

      It amazes me that you can read the comment before yours and all you can come back with is, here is my proof in favor of service animals. This is the proplem. No compassion for “mankind”. Remember us?

    3. Jan says:

      Please tell me, I’m honestly ignorant about this issue. Can someone with P.T.S.D. die from a P.T.S.D. attack?
      How about anyone with panic disorder, anxiety or depression? Can they suffer sudden death from these disorders?
      I know with 100% certainty, that people with allergies to animals *can die* quickly, from not being able to get enough oxygen into their lungs, to their hearts, brains and body when they are having an asthmatic attack due to a life-threatening allergy.
      They can also die from anaphylaxis, which is sudden death caused by being exposed to animal dander.

      1. Lisa says:

        Can someone die of a PTSD attack? Yes…on average 22 United States Military personnel kill themselves daily due to PTSD symptoms. There’s medication for anaphylaxis, several minutes to administer those meds at the onset of an attack and if you are that sensitive that you can’t be 20′ from a dog then you damn well better have those meds close on hand at all times…(whenever you are out in public, because you never know where a trigger lies next, right?) Quite often that service dog is the only medication keeping their people together, and that keeps them alive as well as those around them safe. Show some respect for PTSD, it’s not some bullshit issue, it kills people, dogs are a medically accepted form of treatment.

  12. Kevin says:

    I have spent enough time sitting in various hospitals beside my eldest daughter to understand allergies that trigger asthma. The worst was six days in the Intensive care ward followed by a recovery week in a regular ward. My daughter is triggered the worst by forest-fire smoke, not dog dander, but believe me, I get the picture.

    By observing this whole thing, I am sure that nothing will improve until a little girl dies right there in-flight, with a service dog less than five feet away. The parent will need to be right there, administering proper medication, and the child will have to die in spite of that. The scene will need to be captured on somebody’s phone, and it will have to go viral or at least make the national TV news.

    If she dies in hospital later that day after leaving the airport in an ambulance, nothing will change. If she dies because a service dog on a previous flight left some dander on the seat, nothing will change. It will require an undeniable visual link between the presence of a dog, and the death of a child.

    Laws don’t get fixed because of harm or risk of harm where public doubt can be present.

    1. Jay says:

      I totally agree. It takes death, not compassion.

    2. Jan says:

      Kevin, it is so sad, but you are most likely correct.
      Either that or it would be taken seriously if it happened to *someone important’s* family member.
      It should *NOT* have to come to that!
      Calls to Congress &/or *maybe* calls for federal representation by a national Asthma & Allergy Association, regarding this matter, to call for federal laws for equality for *ALL* who are ill or disabled. The exception to equality is this: if a person can *die* in *any* particular situation, from their disease; and another would *not die*, then obviously, we know who needs to be medically protected in that situation.
      We’ll have to legislate compassion and action to prevent allergic people from dying.

  13. Gina says:

    I have on MORE than one occasion specifically asked the gate agents to inform me if someone has a severe pet allergy when I take my ESA on a flight. I travel weekly for work, and when my husband died suddenly, and violently in front of me from a reaction to prescription medication, taking a bunch of prescription medication for the PTSD associated with it was not an option for me. While I travel with a dog every week, I still view it as a privlege not a right and I’m sensitive to others that paid good money to be on that flight. I honestly feel that those with allergies should have the right of way when it comes to these situations. I have voluntarily chosen to take another flight because of someone with allergies because it’s my choice to chose an ESA over medication, it’s not their choice to have to deal with it. And trust me, people who abuse the ESA system are sick and are absolutely despised by those of us who have legitimate issues. I also feel that ESAs should be required to stay under he seat, in a carrier, like any other pet. United has told me on several occasions that since my dog is an ESA she can ride on my lap. Absolutely not. That’s a great way to stir up even more dander and hair, and upset folks with fear or even mild to moderate allergies. It shouldn’t be an option for an ESA, much less encouraged by the airline. Long story short, even as someone who flys with an ESA every week, I feel the system is backwards. I shouldn’t have to beg the airline staff to inform me so I can be reaccomodated before someone with allergies has to change their plans, it should be the rule. Period.

    1. Elena says:

      Thank you Gina – if all ESA owners were as thoughtful and considerate as you, there would be virtually no issues.

    2. Jan says:

      *YOU* understand! And *YOU* have explained the situation SO WELL!
      I thank God for people like you, who understand what others are going through, even though you are not.
      I am *SO VERY SORRY*, for the loss of your husband that you have suffered! That must have truly been a gut-wrenching, life-changing experience for you, to lose the LOVE of your life, senselessly, right in front of you. I’m just so sorry for you!
      Thank You for growing in compassion towards others, when most of us would have probably crawled under a rock to die, out of heartbreak, if we had to endure what you have.
      Thank You for taking *SO MANY STEPS* to help others who no one else cares about. May God Bless You!

    3. Vincent Harley Kramer says:

      You are such a good human being! Thank you!

  14. Ma says:

    I have allergies also. Perfume, cats,birds and have been exposed to all on planes and boarding area. My niece got lice on a flight.
    Thinking outside the box !
    Can the airline require that the animal be required to be groomed, clean 24 hours before the flight? Most service are pristine. Its the emotional lap dogs, cat and bird ladies that I’m talking about. This would cut down the contamination of the interior air quality. Just a wild thought

    1. Jan says:

      Ma, it’s a good start! And that should honestly be the least of requirements to prevent the possible deaths that can occur from the exposure to animals and other allergens, by those with asthma and allergy diagnosis.
      Also, when you said it was “just a wild thought”, you really said it all!
      Animals belong to nature, and to be out in the wild. A lot of people are now elevating animals, and their animals’ needs, over those of other *human beings*.
      Our compassion for each other is being displaced by our compassion for nature’s animals. If another person could die from your animal, but that doesn’t bother you; then maybe you should open your eyes and your mind, to see that person is another person’s precious family member. Just as precious to their family as *YOU* are to your own family.

    2. Lisa says:

      You should know you are mad at the wrong species for that head lice, lice are species specific parasites so now will you advocate head checks as part of the security check? I’m all for that, I don’t want head lice from your niece either, lets have mandatory showers and de-perfume everyone too. ALL animals require a health certificate , usually no older than 45 days, to fly, doubt most humans would meet the standards put on to animals

  15. Emily says:

    Normally I wouldn’t comment but I just really had to get this off my chest. I’m allergic to a lot of things peanuts, cats, dog dander, fur, all the fun ones. I truly believe that service dogs/animals help poeple and should not be discriminated against, but I find it hard to believe that some people on this thread take so lightly to allergic reactions considereding the topic is about helping people. I ALWAYS carry my EPI pen with me and I have a medical ID bracelet that I wear religiously. There have been many occasions when I have suffered anaphylactic shock because of the animals around me, now I’m no expert on the matter either but I know quite a bit from experience. When I start to stop breathing it’s a race against the clock, I have somewhere between 5-10 minuets before I stop breathing compleatly and about 2-3 after that before I’m passed out, 3 more minutes and I have permanent brain damage. If I have stoped breathing for more than 7 minuites I’m officially beyond care and unless a miracle happens I’m actually dead. So if you total that up I have at a around a maximum of 17 minutes to live as soon as I start having a severe reaction. If I get my EPI pen in time there is no guarantee it will work I once had that happen and it was the scariest feeling of my life because I actually thought I was going to die, if it had not been for a bystander calling 911 I would probably have been. But that’s the issue that I take, you in no feasible way can land a plane in 17 minutes and have medical personal at the scene within that time even accounting for an emergency landing. So while I understand compleatly and sympathize with people who own service dogs for a verity of reasons the lack of empathy from some poeple here is chilling. And even while I understand that there are immeadate needs for service dogs such as PTSD and narcolepsy and many other such immediate care needed that only a service animal can provide I also know while those are serious health concerns they cannot kill you within 17 minutes and please don’t bs me with suicide (which is a very serious topic that I don’t take lightly) a service dog is not the only way to prevent such deaths, but not having one on a plane could prevent mine. Again I’m not suggesting no service or emtional support animals on a plane I’m just giving some perspective because currently with the system the way it is I don’t travel on planes at all. Is it fair? No. Do I think laws are meant to be revised an made better for everyone? Yes. Just some food for thought.

  16. Tori Scott says:

    Hi everyone! I actually started a Facebook group to help fellow asthma patients with animal allergies fight for their rights. Join the crusade!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for sharing that link, Tori Scott.

  17. Vincent Harley Kramer says:

    I just found out that my recently-discovered favorite coffee shop is pet friendly. I was unable to go inside and order coffee due to a pet owner with her small dog on the counter. I was taken aback. I loved the place.

    I’m not the type to get itchy eyes and a runny nose. Within minutes, a fire starts in my lungs and my throat starts swelling shut. It is the worst feeling in the world. I have to go straight to the hospital. My inhaler definitely isn’t going to do shit.

    I wrote the coffee shop and said they should put a “No people with pet allergies allowed” sign on the door.

    I know it sounds dramatic, but we are truly a minority that society makes feel lower than dogs.

    We’re not lower than dogs. We’re normal people, with hopes and dreams, and FEELINGS. We’re also good for companionship and some of us are pretty damn cute as well.

    We should not be treated like second class citizens who can’t even get a cup of coffee without fear of death.


  18. Amy says:

    My brother and his wife have a handicapped child. They decided to claim thier very poorly behaved beagle as thier emotional service animal. Even though the dog really wasn’t, no one would ever dare question the legitimacy of the dog because thier child is so handicapped. It makes me so frustrated that it’s so easy to be dishonest about this, at such an inconvenience to those allergic or uncomfortable with these pets.

  19. Shea O'Neil says:

    I have severe allergies and a chronic allergic disease that is triggered by dog dander– it came after years of trying everything in the book for dog dander allergies. Allergies are not a joke, not easily medicated like commercials make it seem, and dander sticks onto things and travels and alters the physical nature of a building in ways that only serious cleaning and absense of animals can repair. These numerous “service animals” are bringing in enough dander to cause a large proportion of people to have asthma and allergy attacks that can be deadly, can be harmful, can be chronic. I had a heart attack from allergic eosinophils surrounding my heart and choking it. I get hives and serious asthma attacks and an entire flare of my allergic disease and find it difgicult to go places because everyone wants the right to bring their dog everywhere using every excuse in the book. Well you are wrong people– and you are hurting people with real diseases and disabilities and their right to breathe.

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