So you want a letter saying you need a support dog on that flight? Here’s why a therapist might balk

“This thing has gotten out of hand,” said Jeff Younggren, a psychologist and clinical professor at the University of New Mexico, who has conducted several studies on the subject of emotional support animals.

The number of passengers flying with emotional support animals on the nation’s airlines has surged. United Airlines, one of the biggest carriers, saw a 75% increase last year compared with 2016. The trend has been accompanied by more incidents of animals urinating, defecating, biting, barking and lunging on planes. A passenger was even mauled by a 50-pound dog on a Delta flight last year.

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Is that dog (or pig) on your flight really a service animal?

David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University and editor in chief of its Animal Legal and Historical Center, said fraudulent cases eroded trust about service animals.

“There are many thoughtless, ignorant or arrogant people out there who only think of themselves,” he said. “Abuse is everywhere.”

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