When I first read about the “emotional support pig” who was kicked off a plane with its owner, 2 things came to mind:
1. I would not want to be on a plane with a pig if it defecated;
2. I would not want to be on a plane with a squealing pig.
So, I guess I should not have been surprised to learn that the pig in question was ordered off the U.S. Airways plane “after crewmembers determined the animal had become disruptive,” more specifically “the flight crew . . . kicked the pig off of the plane after it defecated and continued to squeal,” according to Paul Samakow, of Communities Digital News.
The airlines seem to go to great lengths to accommodate travelers with emotional support animals, even when not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
That is a good thing. But, as we have previously described, some people take advantage of the situation and pretend their dogs are service dogs so they can travel together.
But this is a different situation. A pig on a plane-not a good idea. Why? The squeal factor is one good reason.
Hog squeals measure 130 decibels, as reported by Iowa State University Extension. Anything over this level causes physical pain. To put it in perspective, a jet plane is 140 decibels and a lawnmower, 85 decibels.
The squeals are so loud, and persistent, that many hog farmers and swine veterinarians wear ear plugs when working on farms, as recommended by Iowa State U. Extension.
It is not likely that airline employees know what a hog sounds like. Most people in the U.S. know very little about livestock. According to AnimalSmart.org:
“Over 200 years ago, 90 percent of the U.S. population lived on farms and produced their own food to eat. But today, only two percent of the population produces the food, including fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy, that everyone eats.”
But based on U.S. Airways guidelines, service animals must fit on the traveler’s lap or in front of the seat.
Most hogs, even pot belly pigs, who commonly weigh well over 100 pounds when mature, would not fit in front of a passenger seated in economy class.
Perhaps the airlines should limit emotional support animals to cats and dogs, like they limit the types of pets that can fly.
American Airlines posts these restrictions on its Web site:
“Types of Pets Allowed: Cats and dogs are the only types of pets accepted on American Airlines. View breed restrictions for more details. We maintain the right to refuse acceptance of any animal that is exhibiting aggressive behavior.”
Squealing is only part of the problem. Another real concern is the potential transfer of infectious disease from one state to another, particularly if livestock species, like hogs or horses (the miniature variety) accompany travelers on planes. Airline employees and travelers may not be aware of the state specific requirements for the entry of these species into a state, which can change in the face of local or widespread disease outbreaks.
While airlines require health certificates for traveling dogs and cats, and many post specific restrictions for entry of these species into other States or countries (e.g., Hawaii and U.K.), adding livestock to the mix will add much more complexity than airline officials realize, or may be able to manage.