Pigs, miniature horses, monkeys and other animals could be part of a new travel service on airplanes under new Department of Transportation rules as part of a draft manual on equality for disabled people who travel.
Animals should be allowed on flights if they are used for ‘emotional support’ by their owners, the manual states. Transportation officers would have to determine whether the animal is permitted on the plane by running through a list of guidelines.
“A passenger arrives at the gate accompanied by a pot-bellied pig,” the manual states. “What should you do?” It then says, “Generally, you must permit a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal.”
Airline employees should enquire about how the animal aids the passenger and what training it has had.
If the employee has doubts that the animal is a service animal, they can ask for further verification or call a Complaints Resolution Official.
Pot-bellied pigs, which can weigh up to 300 lbs, are favored service animals for people allergic to dogs. They are intelligent companions and attuned to dangerous situations. They can be trained to open and close doors and use a litter box.
Miniature horses work as guide animals for the blind and visually-impaired. They are more cost-effective than guide dogs as their life spans are longer, around 30-40 years. They are also chosen for their calm natures, excellent eyesight and stamina, according to the Guide Horse Foundation.
Not all animals that could help humans are allowed in the cabin, including ferrets, rodents, spiders and snakes.
But miniature horses and monkeys are also “commonly used service animals” and are allowed inside, the manual states.
It adds that cases will be dealt with individually and animals can be turned away if they are too large or heavy, or will cause disruption.
The owner must also provide a “relief area” for his or her animal.