AVMA, United Airlines reach agreement on veterinary health form

Service & Assistance Animals Protecting Access - Preventing FraudUpdate – March 8, 2018: The revised form has been posted on the United Airlines website.

The AVMA, with support from AVMA PLIT, flew into action when United Airlines announced a new policy requiring a veterinary signature vouching for the health, behavior and training of psychiatric service and emotional support animals (ESA) flying with United passengers.

The AVMA reviewed United’s Veterinary Health Form, which the airline said would take effect March 1, and recognized that the information it requested might not position United to make good decisions that would appropriately support the health and welfare of their animal and human passengers. The statements on the form also created potential liability risks for veterinarians attesting to them.

The AVMA reached out immediately to United to voice these concerns and worked collaboratively with the airline on revisions. United officials welcomed the AVMA’s input, and have told us they soon will be posting a new form on their website that reflects alternate language developed collaboratively by the AVMA and AVMA PLIT.

The new form will allow veterinarians to confidently report meaningful information to assist United in making decisions about transporting psychiatric service or emotional support animals on its flights.

Revisions requested by the AVMA included:

  • Because an affirmation of health status is requested, which requires the ability to diagnose, AVMA recommended the form be completed and signed only by a licensed veterinarian.
  • United had asked the veterinarian to attest to a statement that s/he “is not aware of any reason to believe that this animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.” AVMA did not believe this statement provided enough information to enable United to determine what such threats might be or how they might best be mitigated. Instead, we recommended that United address disease and behavioral concerns separately. Doing so supports the acquisition of more specific information that will help United make good decisions regarding the risk(s) posed by a particular animal.
  • We recommended adding a field indicating the date on which the last physical examination was conducted, as well as an affirmation that there was no evidence of infection or contagious disease, at the time of the examination, that would endanger other animals or public health. Such statements are consistent with those found on other certificates of veterinary inspection.
  • A question originally was included that asked the veterinarian to determine which measures could be taken to safely carry the animal in the aircraft cabin. Responses would have required that the veterinarian predict how the animal might react to the (likely) foreign environment of a commercial aircraft, as well as the circumstances of a particular flight. However, the examining veterinarian is not in a position to assess whether an animal is qualified to be a psychiatric service or emotional support animal, whether its presence with the owner on the flight is required, nor how an animal might react when placed in such a foreign environment. Instead, we suggested adding language that would allow the veterinarian to offer additional information, obtained from the owner, regarding certain behaviors (e.g., biting, scratching) and the circumstances surrounding those behaviors, that might assist United in determining whether the animal presents an unacceptable risk for passengers or employees, or whether that risk might be mitigated through actions taken by the owner and/or airline (e.g., muzzling, kenneling, transport in the cargo hold).

We know that our members want to do the right thing for patients and clients, while also being responsive to other service providers who depend on your expert recommendations. We’re pleased that United wanted to collaborate with us on improvements to its veterinary health form.

We will be contacting the nation’s other major air carriers to engage similarly with them to ensure that veterinarians have input into any requirements they might be considering for the transport of these animals. Veterinarians are committed to the patients and clients they serve, and the AVMA is committed to addressing the concerns of our members and supporting your success. Veterinarians are the preeminent experts in animal health, welfare and behavior, and deliver great value in assisting others with animal-related issues.

For veterinarians interested in learning more about the different types of service and support animals, the legal context for their use, and preventing service animal fraud, the AVMA offers a variety of knowledge resources for our members. The AVMA encourages veterinarians to be familiar with the legal status and protections accorded to service, assistance, and therapy animals and their owners, and to discourage inaccurate or misleading descriptions of these animals’ roles.

60 thoughts on “AVMA, United Airlines reach agreement on veterinary health form

  1. I wish all of you would remember that not all disabilities are physically evident. Just because a person is not blind or deaf doesn’t mean they don’t have a disability that is serious. I also do not believe that a veterinarian is qualified to make judgement calls about the behavior of any animal or person and I will refuse to sign any forms that require that statement. I do feel that we are becoming a scape goat to shift all blame to us instead of the airline. Also there is no central certification for service dogs as many believe. And yes we need some kind of certification. It would be nice if all dogs were required to have a professional trainer test them in a situation similar to AKC’s CGC (Good Citizen Certificate).

    • Ultimately, the person handling the animal is wholly and completely responsible for the animal’s behavior. Even people with legitimate ADA service dogs are responsible if their dog damages person or property. Airlines, stores and other businesses have to start holding these ignorant people to their liability.

      This whole “emotional support animal’ fad is a bunch of crap. ALL pets are emotional support animals. My Spouse is an “emotional support” person, can he fly with me for free?

      • There is already a test used by many legitimate service dog organizations that certifies that their animals are able to behave in public with their handler. It is call the PUBLIC ACCESS TEST and has been in use for many many years. Furthermore, many legitimate service dog providers insure the animals that they supply to their recipients with $1,000,000.00 worth of coverage against liability. This insurance has rarely if ever been called into play because these animals are appropriately trained and certified. EVERYONE WITH A SERVICE DOG, EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG, OR WHATEVER THAT PLANS TO TAKE THEIR ANIMAL INTO PUBLIC SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO PASS THIS TEST AND OBTAIN INSURANCE!!!! Contact Canine Companions for Independence for more info on this topic.

  2. I do not think an ESA should fly free of charge!!! I also do not think a veterinarian can assess the status of an ESA in a clinical setting!!!

  3. The AVMA would be better off condemning United’s veterinary form rather then altering the language. There is no standard for what constitutes an emotional support animal and anyone can convince their doctor to sign off on it since they physician has no skin in the game. The AVMA’s solution is to let us comment on behavior. How can I believe anything that my clients tell me regarding their pet’s behavior; I have only been bitten a few times by dogs and every single one of them was a pet, “who will never bite.” When this ESA, who will not bite anyone, bites someone, I will be liable since I used the information given to me by my client. My solution is to sign the health certificate but refer the dog to the behaviorist to have an evaluation and let her sign off on this form. She has at least spent a 90 minute appointment assessing the dog’s behavior and is in a better position to make that assessment.

  4. Before this becomes an official AVMA document; and aggreement with United Airlines, or any other airline; this should be voted on by the entire MEMBERSHIP of the AVMA.

  5. I will not sign any document that makes me in part liable for any of these service dogs unless they are professionally trained in the case of of Guide Dogs for the Blind. AVMA should take a trip to this organization’s training campus to see what it really takes to produce a service animal.

    • Precisely.
      Did you know that GDB has a training area which contains actual aircraft seats configured in the same manner as an actual aircraft? All the guides and guide handlers are taught how to position and conduct themselves using the training seat mockup.
      GDB has successfully placed thousands of well trained and properly behaved guide dogs over the last 75 years. They are the prime example of what to do and how to do it.

    • I totally agree. This emotional support animal issue is being abused by anyone who wants to take their dog on the plane with him/her for free. The rest of us have to pay for the pet to go in a cabin bag, excess luggage or cargo. We, as veterinarians have no way of knowing how a pet with react in an airport, airplane or around strangers.

  6. I confess, I didn’t read all the responses so this may have been covered. Dog trainers have no certification and can either help or ruin an animal. Why not require trainers to be licensed to train “support” dogs and actually require support dogs/animals to be trained and licensed? This would cut down on the number that ate just there because they want them and make them more manageable to be around too.

  7. Disappointed that the AVMA is not standing up for veterinarians and common sense here. The emotional support animal is not a legitimate trained, dependable animal. How in the world is a vet supposed to predict a particular animal’s behavior?
    Is the AVMA aware what most “emotional support animals” are like?
    Has the AVMA considered the legal implications of a pet causing damage on a flight after a vet has okayed that pet’s behavior (what little they have likely seen in the clinic setting?)
    I am in no way comfortable signing any such paperwork and am embarassed our veterinary medical association is actually negotiating with an airline rather than being firm and stating the realities of people traveling with untrained pets on a plane.
    A better negotiation would have been requiring actual certification of these animals as canine good citizens or actual therapy dogs etc. so a vet has a reference point when signing off on them.

    • I agree 100%. My own animals are a source of emotional support however this does not mean or give me the right to potentially disrupt a flight so I can feel better. The only animals that we should concern ours lives with on flights are service animals that accompany disabled individuals. Cats and small dogs in carriers that safely fit at the passengers seat should be at the carriers discretion however we are all aware that you can barely jam your shoes under there. Those individuals that require an animal for emotional support also has other options…you can drive, take a train or boat? More importantly, why not use the resources and consultation of the AVMA to develop a safe environment under the plane? There are just too many variables to be able to say for sure that an animal will have good and safe behavior and be 100% disease-free between the vet appt and the time of travel. We can also help to advise our clients of safe alternatives and also with the potential risks involved in all pet travel. Recently, I had no other alternative aside from cargo aboard Cathay pacific to transfer my 2 cats and dog from the Philippines to the U.S. There were far more risks involved than anyone explained. My common sense told me that there was a very good chance of losing at least one in transit and the costs for transfer is nearly prohibitive. For me and my pets, the risks and future welfare for them did not outweigh the rewards of continuing my pet ownership and ensuring their future quality of care. They all had to travel with luggage, and common sense is what told me they may not survive but at least I entered into the contract for cargo with eyes wide open. I would also like to add if the advice to united included sensitivity and basic animal welfare common sense to the flight attendants?

  8. I have grave concerns about asking veterinarians to sign a form commenting on the potential behavior of a pet on a plane based on seeing them in the clinic setting and their owner’s input. Many well meaning pet owner’s incorrectly interpret their pet’s behavior regularly. I worry that this will put veterinarians in the difficult position of having to decline a request to sign such a form or sign it with incomplete information leading to potential liability issues. While the form can open up discussion opportunities on a pet’s behavior it does so in a manner fraught with obstacles for good dialogue.

  9. Is anybody else eager for the opportunity this creates to discuss the behavior of the pet and recommend behavior modification and other interventions? If all else fails, I am at least investing in emotional support animals for behaviorally challenged pets!

  10. The situation is out of hand. Clearly there are people in our society that are seriously emotionally dependent on their pets, drugs, alcohol.. whatever. I don’t understand why the airlines don’t simply require that any animal which is traveling in the passenger compartment also have a liability policy for any injuries or damage that might occur. The airlines can continue to show “sensitivity and compassion” by allowing free passage for these animals, but if the passenger was required to purchase a million dollar, or more, liability policy for damages, I suspect that there would a lot more pets staying home.

  11. I agree with all of the comments on the silliness of the concept of “emotional support animals” flying in the passenger compartment of planes (AND FOR FREE!?). I’d assume there would be a few nearby passengers whose phobias of animals would more than counteract the benefit to the emotionally needy passenger. I’ll bet physicians really hate to sign off on their patients’ neediness (that can only be met with their animal with them). Did the patients bring their emotional support animal with them to their physician’s office?

    But a bigger question is the concept of the health certificate for shipping pets. I understand the value to the agriculture industry of preventing the spread of livestock diseases. But what’s a health certificate for a pet have to do with getting on a plane? Who or what is being protected from what? I’ve never figured that out. Why don’t all human passengers have to get a health certificate from their physician to travel on a plane?

    • My animals were required to test for screw worm before boarding a flight bound for NYC. Make of that what you will. But making rec. in this area I think would be beneficial for everyone involved. To my knowledge, the last documented case for screwworm was decades ago in the u.s. And I was hard pressed to find a vet in the Philippines who could discuss it without googling it.

      • FYI: The last case’s of screw worm infestation in the Unite States occured last year in southern Florida with multiple deer infested. It started ( I believe ) 2 years ago and required activation of the sterile Fly release program to control.

  12. Kevin Stoothoff, DVM’s rec to eliminate the “fly for free” policy, the number of pets traveling would decrease substantially is excellent. As is, Dr. Laufer’s for the dogs, a Good Citizen certification. A past employee came in to get her large dog updated on vaccines, her psychiatrist has given her permission to have a service dog and she is planning to fly to Fl., with it -and a 3 year old. A colleague suggested that if someone had a large dog, they get seated in the front area – but if their whole party doesn’t take up the adjacent seats, someone would have to sit there – or the airline would leave that seat empty ! I was uncomfortable doing a good ear exam, and never would have wanted to have this dog at MY feet. (And, lets face it, only ones who like 3 year olds are their own grandparents!) . Similar to acclimation – I never sign off on anything that I don’t know for sure. I always tell people to OK beyond the N temps is between them and the airline. I always encourage NOT taking a pet for a stay of less than a month, which is not small enough, and acclimated to under the seat travel.

    I don’t know if anyone addressed this, but the person determining the need for, a ESA , can be a MD psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, a “life coach” just about anyone who can has some designation which would fall under “mental health worker” –this is in large part the basic problem.

  13. Sadly, despite good intentions, the airlines themselves opened the door for some untrustworthy pet owners to abuse the system. If the airlines eliminated the “fly for free” policy, the number of pets traveling would decrease substantially. I suspect most of the problems would disappear, resulting in less headsaches for the airlines, increased revenue, with no increased liability for veterinarians (beyond the AVMA approved acclimation statement most of us now sign).

  14. Why in the world didn’t the AVMA recommend that Airlines require that dogs travelling on their planes as “Assistance Animals” be required to have Canine Good Citizenship certification? At least there would be some standards for them to be trained and well behaved.

  15. There are laws that go unenforced when fake service dogs are detected (up to 10K fine +/- 60 days in jail). We MUST develop a way to enforce this law. Most decent veterinarians can identify a true service dog working versus a fake & I, for one, would be happy to testify to this issue in any court if it meant one less fake out there. I LOVE my local Ag investigator (currently going after 2 more fake HC issues for me – & one is a big time felony) and maybe we need to empower them to work alongside veterinarians to stop this sham.

    The term ESA needs to just disappear. People need to see their doctors & get prescriptions to deal with anxiety in public places instead of subjecting everyone to the usually poor behavior of ESAs. Emotional support animals get to fly for free (as do service animals) and this is a real encouragement to get a fake certificate for your dog … saves a few bucks. I will not use my accreditation to sign off on an ESA in any way, shape or form if it involves a statement to good behavior … I will be happy to send a statement if I know it should not travel as an ESA. ….

    I work with too many great service animals and am done with the entire idea of emotional support animals. I guess mine should fly for free also …. love coming home after work to well adjusted pups….

    • Will also wait to hear from PLIT … I want to know what they want me to write, in exact wording, in order to prevent needing to involve them in any future case

  16. AVMA needs to work with juniors on many fronts, including their horrendous pet safety record over the last year ( deaths )

  17. There already exists a form (USDA-APHIS Form 7001) for federally accredited veterinarians to attest to the physical health of an animal and fitness for interstate or intrastate travel. I fill them out all the time, even when not ‘required’ by the airlines. Airline policy is usually for animals to travel in cargo unless they are small enough to fit in soft under-seat sized carriers. Period. If airline policy is in the process of being changed to admit animals for non-legitimate reasons into the general cabin space of the aircraft, unrestrained, then this is totally bogus, and the onus should NOT be shifted to vets to be responsible for what behavior those PETS might exhibit in an unpredictable environment. True “service” animals are specifically trained and certified, and their behavior in public is unquestioned. Animals as “emotional support” is a ridiculous means of people trying to get their personal pets special passage into public places while bypassing the rules – these animals require no specific training or certification for this “distinction”. I refuse to sign any such paper for a pet. Either a pet travels appropriately or you find some other way for it to travel. The appropriate methods of airline transport for animals are for the safety and well being of the passengers as well as the animals. Could you imagine the pandemonium if a dozen different people on one flight all had their large dog pet on board with them, even if they had their own seat… the noise… the possibilities for fear and anxiety among animals that don’t do well with other animals… or the fear level of people who are afraid of animals…. the risk of injury to people (whether via aggression or just plain accidental, or allergic), or the risk of injury to the animals (self induced or induced by another animal)… I am surprised the airline would go along with this at all. I am even more surprised the AVMA would go along with it either. Veterinarians can’t be held liable for what an untrained animal might do on a flight any more than a pediatrician can for the behavior of a toddler.

    • You have so touched on all points! As if I am to ask an owner “Do you think your sweet little dog will bite someone on the airplane while seated in your lap for emotional support?” This is purely and simply owners who want their darling pets to travel with the same privileges as a human passenger. I am disgusted that the AVMA has even considered asking veterinarians to make these statements. Even though I train service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence , I am not qualified to certify a service dog team for public access. Come on, AVMA! Don’t give in to public pressure to allow this obvious attempt to skirt the rules!

    • Hear hear! I agree completely. I love my canine patients but am appalled at the shift in our society that has occurred such that increasingly dog owners have little consideration for the people around them who may NOT love their dog. I’m tired of seeing pseudo service or therapy dogs gaining access to planes and hotels. And EVERYONE’S pet is an “emotional support” animal. I am not in the least bit comfortable signing anything like this form. I don’t believe in the concept, and I don’t want to be liable for any of it. A health certificate is as far as I’m willing to go. Where do we go to voice further protest against this?

    • Very well said, Dr. Ryan. This is an attempt by the airline to shift the blame to veterinarians. We can only attest to the health of the animal at the time of physical examination. We can not predict temperament in a given situation – sometimes not even in our own exam rooms! Nor are we qualified to say if someone has need for an ESA or if the particular animal would be a good match. Going down this path would be a mistake.

      “Instead, we suggested adding language that would allow the veterinarian to offer additional information, obtained from the owner, regarding certain behaviors…” What is the point of this? Why not have the owner supply this information directly? Having DVMs insert this can only make us liable when the owner claims never to have said such a thing. Come on, AVMA, what are you thinking??

  18. I am not comfortable enough to rely on owner information in regards to behavior of their animal to sign such a form. I will only sign a certificate in regards to health upon examination and acclimation settings. Anything outside of those parameters is too much risk of liability. I am also not liking more forms and government intervention plus United is trying to find a way to shift the blame IMHO since no other carrier has contacted the AVMA.

  19. Did the AVMA add anything on the report telling United not to stuff dogs in the overheard bin? I am not sure how many people with animals will be using the airline anyway.

  20. people that want their pets to travel in the cabin, under the ruse of a therapy, service, emotional support heading are creating prejudice against those with true service animals. a veterinarian should never be asked to attest to the ’emotional support/therapy, etc status of an animal to its owner. we believe every animal provides emotional support to their owner—otherwise, what the hell is the human/animal bond?? whether a client needs an animal on board in a jet with them is under the direction of a doctor of HUMAN medicine, not veterinary. i have a relative that is the world’s most manipulative people i know. she convinced her doctor to sign a form saying her dog is a therapy dog and needs to travel in a cabin with the owner. the dog has zero therapy dog training, but is well-trained, and a 100lb rottie. the owner admits she does this, as she doesn’t trust the pet cabins in the cargo hold, or what happens to the dog once she leaves her owner’s supervisioin, not because she needs the dog with her at all times.

  21. I find it interesting that United is coming up with an airline-specific form when, for at least two years now, I have had large numbers of clients decline a CVI prior to airline travel saying the airlines don’t want them. I have no idea on which airline(s) this is happening, but it seems to me that if they did require a CVI, they may achieve part of their goal.

    One of my technicians has flown repeatedly with her dog and only been asked if she had a moisture absorbent pad in the carrier. As an accredited veterinarian, I’m concerned about the flouting of FDA regulations and the poor attention to biosecurity. People aren’t just flying dogs; if someone had to get their ESA chicken a CVI, they may think twice about the hassle.

    • I believe the airlines are missing a chance to make a positive statement of a potential bad situation. The veterinarian should have a response alternative on the form that simply says that an alternative form of travel should be selected.
      No judgement of health and/or temperament!

  22. The distinction is important. A Service dog has been professionally trained to “provide a service” to the affected handler. The distinction of a service dog is well documented in the ADA handouts. They can go anywhere, and are well behaved.
    A “companion animal” as we refer them in Colorado Law, is an animal that can provide emotional support to a person. They are only permitted in the owners house, or on an airplane by law. They are not allowed to go into restaurants or other stores, etc unless those stores allow animals in. There is no training required, and only a human physicians letter is required. Often the physician has never had contact with the animal. You can buy a certificate for $200.00 from a chiropractor or other source as documented by a trouble shooter show. These are the animals that the airlines are requiring letters for as a way to CYA from lawsuits of liability and now they are shifting the blame to veterinarians. We cannot know as the AVMA states – how the animal will react to the variability of conditions and other people on an airplane so…. I will not sign them. Those of you that are offended because you have a true “service” dog are missing the point.

  23. I had a “service dog” come in last week wearing one of the vests that can be bought online. The dog was a rescue and was an emotional support animal according to the owner, something that her human physician should attest too, not a veterinarian. The dog came in wearing a basket muzzle, and when questioned the owner stated the dog had bitten two of her fingers almost off previously. I would in no way sign a form stating this would be safe to travel on a plane, and as is already mentioned above emotional support animals should in no way receive the same standards as true service animals. I feel this is not something veterinarians should be evaluating during a physical exam, even if the owner does attest the dog hasn’t bitten anyone (how many times have clients not told the whole truth). This could lead to placing a dangerous animal on an airplane that could cause serious harm to many others and even disrupt normal flight protocol. In addition if we don’t sign these forms it is going to outrage clients and cause harm to our practice from sending out a dissatisfied client.

  24. A proliferation of forms for each airline is not beneficial to anyone. There is already a standard. Use it (see quote from AVMA below). I think it is a mistake to work with one air carrier on a document that has a similar intent to an already existing and accepted health certification.

    The airlines need a standard for health and behavior that they can use to set a requirement. They have been taken advantage of and need criteria that are fair and can be interpreted and enforced. Honestly, even the process and cost of having to get a CVI may dissuade some. The challenge IMHO is more on the behavior side as there is no accepted and enforceable standard.

    Quoting from the AVMA web page regarding “Traveling with your Pet” – You will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to travel and some airlines require an acclimation certificate. Both of these certificates can only be completed and signed by a federally accredited veterinarian. If your veterinarian is not federally accredited, you will need to find an accredited veterinarian in your area, by contacting your USDA Area Office.

  25. All a veterinarian should ever be asked to provide is a signed Certificate of Veterinary Inspection on any pet regardless of service animal or ESA status. All an animal such as a “seeing eye” dog who is properly trained to accompany a person with a physical or emotional disability has ever needed to travel on an airplane with an owner is a CVI; it’s the ones who are not trained to deal with a variety of people and potentially scary or threatening situations who need this extra documentation that is now being requested by United.

    I am not willing to incur any potential liability by stating that the animal is not likely to bite, scratch, urinate, defecate, destroy property, or scare airline passengers or employees. Sometimes animals that appear pleasant and nonthreatening in the exam room may be very different on an airplane. I also will not offer “additional information, obtained from the owner…” about any potential behaviors because owners may misperceive, misrepresent or outright lie about the pet’s demeanor or behavior. We have all seen animals come into the clinic who look afraid, and the owner reassures us, “He won’t bite” and then…CHOMP!

  26. Dealing with Canine Companions for Indepence (CCI)with my daughter both having a service dog and raising puppies for CCI I find it appalling and disrespectful with the “fake” service dogs being allowed on flights. Emotional support dogs do not have the rights of service dogs. I for one would not sign off on an emotional support dog.

  27. Service dogs are protected under federal disability laws to travel with their person, not emotional support animals. You know, service dogs that actually do a job that their person cannot do for themselves. We already have to contend with fake service dogs causing discrimination against real ones & now this? I’ve had to leave a plane & book another flight- with another airline- because someone with a pit bull was allowed to fly with their dog. Now veterinarians are going to sign off on these UNTRAINED dogs being locked on planes with people who aren’t allowed to have any weapons for protection. Great idea, professionals, really. Well, if you all are willing to take on the liability…

    • You do realize that there are some “pit bulls” that are indeed accredited service dogs? I would bet if I looked you up I would find you are a proponent of breed specific legislation too. I guess the rest of the people on the flight that you did not take were DOA.

      • Jan, I am happy that your experience with bull terriers has been a pleasant one. Really. I am from the generation that didn’t require the government to tell us to do the right thing, though. If a dog bit someone or, say, took two fingers off (as a vet stated here), we took the animal out back & immediately put it down, as hard as it was. We burried it in the family pet cemetery, sometimes children cried & were sad, sometimes not. I know that isn’t PC now, but I did laugh reading your BSL comment. Bull @#$& legislation, huh? Yeah, no thanks- I’m for small government & people doing the right thing. And before people beat me up & bully an old lady, I’d take my beautiful girl to the vet to be put down “proper like” when the time comes. That’s the way things are done now.

    • Service dog trainer and user here.
      1. This is illegal to require with psych service dogs, and I think that the airlines attempting this are going to find that out.
      2. There is no such thing as “”accredited service dog””
      3. My Rottweiler service dog, will pick up a dime, turn on/off lights, alert to my blood sugars, acts as my eyes, and is bomb detection trained. Going to rebook your flight?

  28. The AVMA response was swift and influential, however I still would not sign a form where “…we [AVMA] suggested adding language that would allow the veterinarian to offer additional information, obtained from the owner, regarding certain behaviors (e.g., biting, scratching) and the circumstances surrounding those behaviors, that might assist United in determining whether the animal presents an unacceptable risk for passengers or employees, or whether that risk might be mitigated through actions taken by the owner and/or airline (e.g., muzzling, kenneling, transport in the cargo hold).” To me, this still seems like the responsibility for the assesment of the animal’s behavior (good or bad) falls on the veterinarian. I do not feel qualified to comment on the behavior of my patients in any situation outside of the exam room since that is the only situation of which I have any knowledge. I am not willing to assume liability for the behavior of any animal other than the ones with which I cohabitate.

  29. The story above is an excellent one. Everyone should read it, especially pet owners. On the other hand, almost all pet owners are responsible pet owners and are considerate and mindful of other people’s needs, health, safety, welfare, well being and concerns. Although rare, some people do have phobias for certain animals, including household pets.

    • Dr. Dela Cruz – “almost all pet owners are responsible pet owners and are considerate and mindful of other people’s needs, health, safety, welfare, well being and concerns” ????? Where in the world do you practice? Utopia? Only a few here have hit on the impetus to this entire dilemma – these pets fly FOR FREE. Discontinue that policy and this problem will nearly disappear overnight. It’s a marketing tool that needs to end.

  30. I firmly believe that hospital emergency rooms should strictly prohibit any kind of animal from entering. Why? Because they can compound the patients’ problems for which the ER rooms are especially designated. Animals can be a source of infectious, contagious diseases as well as other nuisance, and may serve as a source of allergens to sensitive people.

    • So, you think a blind person should not have their guide dog with them in the ER?

      Yeah, I am so glad you live no where near me to have to possibly actually meet you.

    • Wow, I can’t believe a Vet would say they don’t believe a Service Dog should not be with their person in the ER. Most people in the ER are contagious & their bodily fluid is what staff needs to be careful of. Blood Borne Pathogens comes to mind. I haven’t heard of anyone picking up any Blood Borne Pathogen issues from a dog. People are more of a source of infection that the dogs are.

  31. I am alarmed at the number of people fraudulently claiming their pet is a “support” animal. Fake vests and tags and collars and accoutrements can be purchased by anyone online, and laws restrict many questions that would help a business owner or service provider from obtaining pertinent information about the pet and its use or behaviour. I have seen very obviously untrained and undisciplined animals on airlines and once saw the airline bump a passenger to provide a seat for a family’s dog. The family found it amusing. I also know people who brag that they have a vest for their pet so it can ride in the passenger cabin, and also brag that “there is nothing they can do to stop me.” while I wholeheartedly endorse the use of support, service, and ESAs, I think there should be far more safeguards and checks to remove the popularity of fraudulently scamming the system.
    Recently a young man entered a hospital emergency room here with a nasty, growling, unneutered and homemade ear-cropped pit bull type dog with a spiked collar. He was there “with a friend” and refused to stay outside with the dog, which he could barely control, as it lunged at and terrified waiting room patients. The hospital staff said they could do nothing. At what point does this pass ludicrous and become an active danger to the public??

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