Write Your Patient a Note for an Emotional-Support Peacock?

Shelly Reese


August 07, 2018

In This Article

Emotional-Support Pigs, Snakes, Dogs, Birds

Have you been asked to write a note for a patient for an emotional-support peacock, or perhaps an emotional-support snake? Or, more commonly, a dog or a cat that your patient says provides relief from stress and anxiety?

Source: thejetset.tv

The desire for people's pets to travel with them has been mushrooming lately. While most emotional-support animals (ESAs) are dogs, or cats, in 2014, a woman tried to take her pot-bellied pig aboard a US Airways flight. (The pig was asked to deplane after becoming unruly and defecating in the aisle.) In 2016, a passenger took an emotional-support turkey on a Delta flight from Newark to Boston. And in early 2018, United Airlines refused to let a peacock fly on a plane from Newark.

Anyone who flies on a semiregular basis has likely noticed that animals have become commonplace.

Varied as those animals may be, they have something in common with thousands of other furry and feathered travelers: a note from a mental health provider or possibly a physician stipulating that they are therapeutically necessary for the emotional well-being of their owner.

While a lot of those notes are penned—for a fee—by online concerns, a growing number of physicians and mental health providers are fielding patients' requests for letters attesting to their need for an ESA. In fact, Delta Airlines is now requiring a signed document from a physician or a licensed mental health professional.

"This has now metastasized into the world of the family physician and the treating psychologist," says Jeffrey Younggren, PhD, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of New Mexico, who has published two papers on the topic. "They've opened Pandora's box."


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