Woman Refuses To Leave Plane After Bringing 'Emotional Support Squirrel' on Flight

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Where do animals belong? I’m sure there are as many answers to that question as there are people.

If you grew up on a farm like me, you’d probably say that they should stay outside, enjoying the wider world. If you live in the suburbs, you might claim they should stay indoors, safe from worldly hazards and able to provide comfort to their owners.

Increasingly, though, people have begun to say that animals should stay on planes. And the rise of pets that provide emotional support for fliers has begun to put airlines in a tricky situation.

Which animals should they allow onto a flight, and which ought to remain forbidden? Well, according to Travel + Leisure, most airlines require 48 hours advanced notice and some sort of documentation from a mental-health professional.

Many also restrict the types of animals allowed, turning away passengers with reptiles, rodents, insects, rabbits and birds. Why? The main concern seems to be that they might disturb other passengers.

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A performance artist named Ventiko learned that the hard way in January when she tried to bring her emotional support peacock on a United Airlines flight. According to The Sun, Ventiko tried to purchase a separate seat for the animal and contacted the airline ahead of time, but was refused.

“This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size,” a United Airlines spokesperson said. “We explained this to the customer on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.”

A woman trying to fly from Orlando to Cleveland took no such steps on Oct. 9. The Frontier Airlines passenger did let employees know that she had an emotional support animal with her.

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She just forgot to tell them one thing: It was a squirrel. The Associated Press reported that Frontier doesn’t allow rodents of any kind on flights.

This did not please the woman, who’d actually managed to board prior to being told that she couldn’t fly with a squirrel. So she simply told airline staff that she wouldn’t leave the plane.

The flight crew even had to disembark every passenger from the plane. Then Orlando police got involved.

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Fortunately, the authorities didn’t need to use force to remove the unnamed woman from the plane. Even after refusing, once they approached her, she allowed them to escort her out.

“Yeah, here’s the crazy lady,” she yelled while leaving.

On surveillance footage, at least one individual could be heard cursing at the squirrel itself. The incident caused the flight to be delayed by two hours.

What do you think? Is it a step too far to allow people to bring exotic pets on planes for emotional support reasons or should airlines accommodate their unique needs?

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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