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What Kinds of Therapy Animals Should Be Allowed on Airplanes?

At the moment, there are very few regulations limiting the kinds of animals that can be carried onto commercial airplanes, as long as the given dog, pig, hamster, rooster, capuchin monkey, or what have you has been designated a provider of emotional support for its owner.

That could change, however, once a committee of airline representatives and disabled-rights advocates that has been meeting since April in Washington, D.C., finally comes up with a new set of rules governing the types of therapy animals allowed on commercial aircraft and listing the documentation required to prove you need them with you in the cabin. 

Keep in mind we're not talking about service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs, but emotional support animals that comfort those with psychological or emotional conditions. Both types of creatures are allowed to fly with passengers at no additonal charge. 

Some members of the group, which is called the Accessible Air Transportation advisory committee, advocate limiting emotional support animals to dogs, cats, rabbits, and possibly birds—though not chickens, ducks, or turkeys. 

Airlines, for their part, say that many passengers falsely claim their pets are therapy animals, and they get away with it because they don't have to carry a note from a doctor or other expert confirming the necessity of the animal in the cabin.

Mental health advocates counter that requiring such a document would be stigmatizing. 

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation, meanwhile, worries about all that pet dander circulating in an enclosed space. 

So there's still a lot to consider before the meetings draw to a close next month.