A WOMAN has been kicked off a plane after taking a squirrel on board as an emotional support animal.
Earlier this year an artist was prevented from taking her emotional support animal - a beloved peacock called Dexter - on a flight.
What is an emotional support animal?
Unlike service animals such as guide dogs emotional support animals are not trained for any specific tasks.
Instead the job of emotional support animal is to be present for their owner’s wellbeing, especially to help with anxiety or depression.
The use of animals to help with people’s mental health has a long history.
In 17th century England, a Quaker-run retreat for the mentally ill encouraged patients to interact with animals on its grounds.
Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud often included one of his dogs in sessions.
Evidence about what their actual impact is in alleviating mental health problems is, however, mixed.
Can you bring them on planes?
Faced with an exotic menagerie of emotional support animals, airlines in the United States have been changing their rules.
United Airlines said there were 76,000 requests for emotional support pets from passengers in 2017 a rise of 75 per cent.
The airline says it has been faced with problems of emotional support animals biting other passengers as well as them going to the toilet on planes.
It has issued a banned list that includes “non-household birds”, hedgehogs, insects, snakes, spiders, rodents and reptiles as well as animals with a "foul odour".
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@kumathedestructor took this great shot of me at #newarkairport today. Spent 6 hours trying to get on my flight to LA 😤🐣 (after following all required protocol) Tomorrow my human friends are going to drive me cross country! Keep an 👁out for us! 🌈 #bestroadtripbuddy #dexterthepeacock
A post shared by Dexter The Peacock (@dexterthepeacock) on
Its rival American Airlines says it will be prohibit people from flying with frogs, hedgehogs and goats even if they are therapy animals.
In addition to expanding the list of banned creatures, the carrier will also require a doctor's note for any animal.
Tusked animals will be banned from flying, but miniature horses will not.
The new ruling expands the airline's banned creatures list to include amphibians, spiders, goats, snakes, "non-household birds", or any smelly or unclean animal.
Delta said passenger have attempted to fly with comfort animals including turkeys, gliding possums, snakes and spiders.
The situation is stricter with UK airlines.
Virgin, EasyJet and Ryannair only allow dogs on board for emotional support.
British Airways says because emotional support dogs are not recognised as assistance dogs they are not allowed to travel in the cabin.
On October 9, 2018, a woman was escorted off a plane after taking her emotional support squirrel on the flight.
Frontier Airlines said: “Rodents, including squirrels, are not allowed on Frontier flights. The passenger was advised of the policy and asked to deplane.”
And in January 2018 a young artist was prevented from taking her emotional support peacock on her flight.