United Airlines turned away a woman who attempted to board her flight with her "emotional support peacock."
No, I didn't read that story on "The Onion." The airline confirmed that they had turned away the woman and her companion animal because it “did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size.” Apparently, they advised the passenger of these facts on 3 phone calls before she arrived at the airport.
This isn't the first time an airline made headlines over an animal passenger. Passengers have been exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act provision allowing service animals on flights for years in apparent attempts to avoid checking their animals as baggage. There have been stories of dogs, ducks and pot-bellied pigs. But never a peacock - until now.
I'm sure that if any of my friends are reading this, they're laughing at my hypocrisy, considering I often refer to my own cat as my "emotional support animal." My soon-to-be ex-husband even took issue with me calling the cat "my best friend" when he filed his divorce complaint with his lawyer (but hey, the cat didn't just walk out on me after 10 years of marriage!) There is no way I'd ever put him into the cargo hold of a plane (the cat that is. The husband can travel however he wants to.) Persian cats are "brachycephalic" animals like bulldogs and cannot be put in cargo due to their difficulty breathing. I hope I never have to travel long distance with him because we'd probably have to drive.
I will totally cop to some anti-bird bias here. I'm one of those outliers who roots for the coyote in the cartoons and keeps wishing for Tweety to end up as Sylvester's tasty treat. But peacocks are gorgeous animals. I'm so jealous of the neighbor who had one take residence on her porch.
I just don't think they're very "emotionally supportive." Or good traveling companions.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this was a blatant publicity stunt. I base this assumption on the fact that A) the peacock's owner is a "performance artist" and B) the peacock has his own Instagram account. (Yes, my cat has his own Facebook page. Shut up.)
But seriously, there are people who are dependent on their service animals. Not just the blind, but the hearing impaired, people with seizure disorders and others suffering conditions such as PTSD. Emotional support animals are a real thing and they perform a valuable service. People shouldn't exploit this for cheap publicity.