On U.S. Planes, the Dogs are Winning–according to Scott McCartney WSJ who paints a picture of planes as zoos, overcrowded with biting, barking, and peeing pets.

While the increase in emotional support animals on planes is significant (there has been a 56% increase in a one-year period) some of McCartney’s conclusions are exaggerated. It’s true Delta flies 700 emotional support animals and service dogs a day, but the airline totals 4,800 flights a day–that makes just one ESA or service dog for every seven flights. If every plane flies 300 people, the likelihood that you will be sitting next to one of these dogs is about one in 2000.

And even if there were an extraordinary number of pets flying, is this necessarily a negative? Wouldn’t this trend suggest more people with disabilities are benefiting from the support of cats and dogs, and want to take them along when they travel? After all, 8.9 million (or 18.5%) of adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental illness or substance use disorder, and of those “44% received substance use treatment or mental health treatment in the past year,” according to the American Psychological Association.

Dogs and humans have a symbiotic relationship going back almost 20,000 years. And in modern times, different countries have different attitudes toward dogs. In France, dogs are generally allowed in restaurants and not allowed in public parks. In England dogs are often welcome in pubs and restaurants.

But many people don’t want dogs on planes. They have allergies, or they have fears. And passenger safety is incredibly important.

A recent incident has brought the question of dogs on planes to the forefront: after a Pitbull badly scratched an attendant on a Delta flight, the airline banned the breed of dog from all future flights. However, Delta deciding a particular breed of dog “poses a threat” while other breeds do not is a determination many are opposed to. The Air Carrier Access Act does not apply to animals that “Pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.”

The second precaution Delta has taken seems fairer. Now, in addition to the immunization records and the note from a therapist previously required to bring an ESA on board, you will also be required to sign a document stating that your pet will behave on the plane.

Inspired by these recent changes to Delta and other airline’s policies, the Department of Transportation has begun looking into imposing new regulations. The DOT is currently reviewing the 4,467 comments they’ve gotten. Continue reading to see comments on these policies:

There’s nothing worse than infants and small children on airplanes.  The screams are horrific.  And the smells from the unattended diapers make me want to pass out.

That’s the real story.

Robert Hillert

If someone wants to bring an “emotional support” animal on a plane, give the animal a seat and put the owner in the cargo hold.

Michael Dulaney

Given the choice between sitting next to a dog or an obese, sweaty, cellphone yapping business traveler, I’ll take the former.

Don Misener

The market could solve this.  An airline could say, “We’re sorry, but the costs and risks are too great and we’re not allowing uncaged animals on any of our flights.”  I bet they could charge more money than their competitors..

I have family members and neighbors who are disabled veterans.  Some do rely on emotional support animals.  I think that aspect of the situation has been the nose of the camel that is now flying in coach.  No airline wants that bad story about the vet who served three tours in Iraq and couldn’t bring Bowser on the flight.

Mike Young