SPRINGFIELD, MO (02/09/18)- It’s not unusual to see a trained emotional support dog walking through the Springfield-Branson National Airport. But a spokesman for the airport does say the types of animals that people try to trick you as being one might be a little surprising.
Kent Boyd with the Springfield Airport says people are just abusing the privilege by bringing pot bellied pigs, snakes, and various types of birds.
“You can buy documents on the internet that are fake," he says. "They come with fake letters from the doctors that say they need the animals.”
He says it’s not that hard to tell which types of animals really are service animals and are aware of their owners needs. But with fake documents going around airports nationwide are tightening their rules on what is and isn’t an emotional support animal.
Just last month, a woman tried to bring her support peacock on a United Airlines flight. And the Miami Herald reported that a woman flushed her emotional-support hamster down an airport toilet claiming a rep from Spirit suggested it. An allegation the airline denies.
At the Springfield airport Boyd says animals that are tried to pass off as emotional support can be spotted pretty quick. "I have personally witnessed a dog doing his bathroom business on this carpet, in this very room.”
From 2016 to 2017, United Airlines has seen a 75 percent increase in emotional support animal on board incidents. Including, some of the animals getting aggressive.
“Pets, occasionally, get rowdy and sometimes bite people," says Boyd. "We’ve had biting instances at this airport.”
He says when trying to get these,so called, emotional support animals on a plane it has the potential to cause a lot of problems.
The Springfield airport does not have a list of banned or approved animals. But, instead, they are leaving it up to the airlines.