'Emotional-support animal' bites flight attendant – calls policy into question

2019-07-26 09:49
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Should dogs be allowed onboard? Should cats? What about a baby tiger or chimp? 

The US is really open when it comes to tagging along an 'emotional-support animal' on domestic flights. But recently, this practice was called into question as a flight attendant was bitten on Flight 3506 from Dallas to Greensboro, North Carolina, says CNN. He needed 5 stitches. That's pretty severe. 

PICS: SAA flight attendant takes care of baby on her back while mom eats 

After the incident, The Association of Flight Attendants called for the Department of Transportation to ensure this doesn't happen to anyone else - not a passenger or a flight attendant.

The statement read as follows: “What happened on yesterday’s American Airlines flight is completely unacceptable and inexcusable. For years, AFA has supported the role trained animals can provide to passengers in the cabin, but we have also called for action in regards to setting standards for emotional support animals. We need the Department of Transportation to take action now, so events like the one that happened yesterday do not continue to occur on our planes. This is fundamentally about maintaining safety, health and security for passengers and crew, while ensuring accessibility for those who need it."

READ: Should you tip your flight attendant? Local airlines weigh in

In terms of their most recently updates policy with regards to animals onboard, American "...supports the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with a legitimate need for a trained service or support animal. Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for team members, customers and working service and support animals onboard aircraft."

The airline requires a Veterinary Health Form, along with immunisation details, to allow emotional support animals.

What is the case in South Africa?

In South Africa, South African Airways allows service dogs assisting blind or deaf passengers, whereas emotional support animals are only allowed on flights to or from the United States. 

READ: What you need to know about planning a flight with your cat or dog in SA

Mango and kulula.com only permit guide dogs, who travel free of charge. 

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