FOX reported — but The Washington Post could not confirm — that the pig’s name was “Hobie.”
When the pig appeared, fellow passengers were not psyched.
“Oh my Lord, where is she going to put that animal,” college professor Jonathan Skolnik, who sat next to the offending beast, told the Hartford Courant. “I am burying my face in my sweater to hide from the stench.”
This was before the pig let feces fly.
A flight attendent in re pig stool: “You’ve got to clean that up.”
When the pig’s master, unnamed in news reports, tried to comply, the animal started screeching.
So did the passengers.
“She was talking to it like a person, saying it was being a jerk,” passenger Robert Phelps told CNN. “I have no problems with babies, but this pig was letting out a howl.”
Airline spokeswoman Laura Masvidal explained the outcome quite clinically: “After the animal became disruptive, the passenger was asked to deplane.”
Said passenger did not object. Exeunt pig and owner.
Masvidal confirmed that the pig was given the chance to fly as an “emotional-support animal.” It was unclear if the pig had run afoul of the airline’s emotional support or psychiatric service animal policy. Via the US Airways Web site:
To travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal in the cabin, you must provide documentation on letterhead dated within 1 year of the scheduled initial flight date from a licensed mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed clinical social worker) or a medical doctor specifically treating your mental or emotional disability.Documentation must state:
That you have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM IV)
That you need the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination
That the individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor, and you are under his or her professional care
The date and type of the mental health professional or medical doctor’s license and the state or other jurisdiction where it was issued
Lawyers, note well: There is a difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. As New Yorker scribe Patricia Marx put it when discussing service dogs: “The I.R.S. classifies these dogs as a deductible medical expense, whereas an emotional-support animal is more like a blankie.”
Indeed, in an October expose called “Pets Allowed,” Marx broke the story on how emotional-support animals often appear where they shouldn’t.
“Fortunately for animal-lovers who wish to abuse the law, there is a lot of confusion about just who and what is allowed where,” she wrote after she “test-drove” a turtle and a snake among other animals in an attempt to see what unlikely creatures could be passed off as therapeutically necessary.
“The law is fuzzy,” Len Kain, the editor-in-chief of dogfriendly.com, a Web site pet-travel tips, told Marx. For those who need emotional-support animals — and those that wish such animals gone — it’s a roll of the dice.
“If you ask one too many questions, you’re in legal trouble for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and could face fines of up to a hundred thousand dollars,” Kain said. “But, if you ask one too few questions, you’re probably not in trouble, and at worst will be given a slap on the wrist.”