According to the "Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Draft Technical Assistance Manual", airlines will be 'helped to comply' (you know, forced by the government under penalty and fine) to allow not only such animals as the pot-bellied version of swine (the pot-bellied human version having been allowed for many years already), but dogs, miniature horses, and monkeys to be allowed in the cabin as service animals to see to the needs of those considered by such regulations to be disabled.
In these recently released 'regulation updates' (regulations which total some 200 pages) that I spotted in a Fox News piece by Todd Starnes, service animals used by a passenger with an accepted disability must be allowed to accompany such a passenger into the cabin and remain there so long as it doesn't obstruct an aisle. If space isn't available, the airline is required to speak to passengers (asking them to switch seats if necessary) until the animal is accommodated.
We all know what a pain in the ass it is these days to go through the rather onerous and time consuming process of security checks and luggage restrictions that passengers must go through in order to get aboard an airplane these days. The entire system has become such a morass of examination, regulation, and intimidation that many of us simply choose to fly only when no realistic alternative presents itself. One can only speculate therefore, on what new terminal adventures await the air traveler when sharing the security lines with 'Arnold the Pig', 'Bonzo the Chimp', or a miniature version of of 'Trigger the Wonder Horse'.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm all in favor of those with Special Needs getting a helping hand in enjoying life to the fullest through traveling by air. Why should we, who require no more special assistance in flying than detailed instructions on how to operate a seat belt, breathe into an oxygen mask if one drops in front of your face, or grab a seat cushion as a flotation device in the unlikely event that your plane attempts a 'water landing' (you know, does a really awful job of trying to imitate a boat) be the only ones willingly to subject ourselves to the gulag-style treatment afforded us by the TSA and the simmering hostility of many current airline employees? (Not that we don't deserve it.)
Besides, I can't wait to find out what the TSA pat down procedures are going to be for this Noah's Ark of personal assistants. I'm also looking forward to some vocal and over-the-top demonstrations by members of PETA; not for the use of service animals as personal servants for the disabled (which may be a line that even they will not cross), but for subjecting these 'animals are people too' to the abusive practices of the Mall cops of the TSA. In fact, if one were to take this to its illogical extreme (a duty for which I am particularly well-suited); one could ask what the ramifications would be if TSA's procedures were to be considered inhumane in the eyes of PETA or the ASPCA (let alone the Humane Society), since they were originally developed for use on humans.
I'm also curious to see how airlines will deal with animal allergy issues that are bound to come up. Having long ago retreated in the face of the peanut threat, how will they now deal with the potential of their recirculated air carrying animal dander to passengers who may be hypersensitive to such exposure? How will such sensitivities be determined before boarding, and will the person with the disability (along with the offending service animal) be required to relinquish their seat(s) or will the one with the allergy (which could also be considered a disability) be required to deplane?
Additionally, what about phobias? It's not that I personally have any fears in regards to miniature horses or monkeys flying (except of course, for the horrible ones in "The Wizard of Oz"); but then again, I've never been trapped in an airplane at 30,000 feet with a 'My Little Pony' that's got a case of the gallops or a 'Curious George' getting just a bit too curious where I'm concerned. Will flight attendants be required to learn the additional skills of roping and tying for our four-legged friends, or proper restraint techniques for our simian cousins?
And as for the potential terrorist threat, there's no telling where those who believe that the soles of shoes and underwear are OK places to hide explosives will be able to make of these new regulations. While I believe that religious proscription will probably maintain the safety of pot-bellied bacon bearers, the rest of the animal kingdom could well come under serious threat as they are added to the list of potential and unknowingly suicidal explosive devices.
Now lest anyone think that the DOT has completely lost its frigging mind, they have at least placed some limitations on service animals, and are allowed to reject some species on these Greyhounds of the air (the buses, not the dogs). Animals coming into question include, but are not limited to: "ferrets, rodents, spiders, snakes, and other reptiles" (though with multiple ocular opportunities, certainly a 'seeing eye spider' makes a creepy sort of sense). It does however beg the question: