Updated April 6, 4:42 PM CT
Another horse, of course
February 18, 2020
Mini horse mingles in first-class
Ronia Froese was traveling to California, perhaps for the last time, with her emotional support animal, 'Fred, the horse.'
The two were traveling in the first-class section of a flight from Grand Rapid, Michigan, with a connection in Dallas, before landing in Ontario, California.
She explained: “I paid an arm and a leg for tickets, but I did so because it was Fred’s first time and I wanted him to be comfortable. I wanted him to have the most room.”
Ronia even dressed him in a sleek suit that made him look like a Lucha Libre wrestler commonly seen in Mexico, and added that despite some strange looks, everyone on board was “sweet as pie”.
He has been trained through Little Horses Big Smiles, a non-profit, animal therapy training facility.
Ronia said that the “experience was way better than I actually anticipated.”
Fred’s flying days will soon be over, with the US Transportation Department recently announcing plans to tighten the laws so that only dogs actually trained to help the disabled qualify for flights.
Surprisingly, Ronia seems to agree in part — telling WXMI that the system is “out of control.”
She said: “It’s a very abused process — there are a lot of untrained service animals on the plane that are not trained.
“The sad part is what the DOT is looking at doing, they are looking at excluding me as a handler from taking my horse on the plane.”
Ronia isn’t the first passenger to bring a service horse onto a plane, with Flirty the miniature horse spotted on a flight last year. (See related article below.)
September 2, 2019
American Airlines passenger takes miniature HORSE onto flight
Evan Nowak said he noticed the animal, which had been brought on board by a fellow traveler while flying on a service from Chicago to Omaha.
He posted the footage to Twitter, which showed the horse calmly sitting near the front of the plane in an aisle seat.
He added: “At this time we would like to begin boarding with any active duty military, families traveling with children under the age of 3, and horses…”
Another passenger, Amberley Babbage, also spotted the animal at check-in, tweeting: “There was a small horse in line at the airport today and I’m so curious about it. #ORD”
The horse was later revealed to be called Flirty – and even has its own Twitter and Instagram account.
“That being said, I’m going to keep travelling by car, it’s just easier on Flirty. Flying will be reserved for emergencies and such.”
They added: “It’s just too difficult to make sure Flirty doesn’t inconvenience other passengers.
“Because my airport is smaller, the planes are smaller and don’t have solid bulkheads. Flirty couldn’t help jostling seat of the person in the last row of first-class every time she moved.
“Once we got up to cruising altitude, she took a nap and was very quiet. But she had to rebalance quite a bit while ascending and descending and kept bumping the back of their seat through the curtain ‘bulkhead.'”
What is a service animal?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is classed as one which is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability”.
This can include:
Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks.
Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds.
Providing non-violent protection or rescue work.
Pulling a wheelchair.
Assisting an individual during a seizure.
Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens.
Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone.
Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
This is not the same as an emotional support animals which are not trained for any specific tasks.
Instead the job of emotional support animal is to be present for their owner’s wellbeing, especially to help with anxiety or depression.
According to the American Airlines website, trained miniature horses are permitted on flights as service animals.
In mid-August, the US Department of Transportation announced that miniature horses still were allowed to fly as service animals in all cabins of commercial planes, in a statement aiming to define the guidelines regarding protections for emotional support and psychiatric service cats, dogs and the tiny equines.
The announcement didn’t bind airlines to fly all service miniature horses by law, but did allude to penalties if carriers violated the new rule, WWJ reported. The Department of Transportation had not banned mini horses previously.
According to the American Miniature Horse Association, the animals often stand between two and three feet tall and weigh between 150 and 250 pounds, with an average life span of at least 30 years.
Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News
Attributes:: AASNSports; WXMI, SunTravel
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