This ‘Emotional Support’ Peacock Can’t Fly

United Airlines tightens policies against birds or any other 'necessary' creatures to stem passenger abuse of loopholes

Dexter, a peacock who lives with a Brooklyn-based artist by the name of Ventiko, was denied boarding by United Airlines at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey a few days ago. And now — though the company denies the change was prompted by the viral (and pretty humorous) avian incident — United Airlines has joined Delta in tightening the reins on pet-related transportation policies.

The peacock’s owner had been informed three times before her arrival at the airport that Dexter would not be permitted to board, a United airlines rep told Fox News. Despite that good-faith effort to deter this passenger from arriving at the terminal with bird in hand — she carried on with the charade.

But the airline ultimately clipped her wings.

Whether she hoped to leverage her silly stunt for publicity, somehow misunderstood United’s repeated communication to her — or just thought, “Heck, let me take a shot at getting this peacock on board anyway” — is not clear.

Many people on social media made light of the obviously inappropriate request to transport an “emotional support peacock” in the cabin among other passengers — see some of the funniest tweets below. But the story sheds light on what has become an issue. In the past, passengers weren’t required to present any substantive proof that the animal they hoped to transport was a legitimately needed emotional support animal.

Predictably, problems arose. Some people abused the policy to avoid having to check their pet and pay the associated fees — while others tried to transport exotic pets or animals with troublesome behaviors, such as biting.

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Related: Puppy Cuddling for Weary, Needy Travelers

With these recent policy changes, those who want to take their emotional support pets aboard with them fee-free in the flight cabin will need to provide considerable documentation.

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In addition to a letter from a mental health professional certifying the need, these individuals will also have to provide a health record from a veterinarian.

They’ll also need to give 48 hours’ notice to the airline, Fox News reported.

The proud Dexter, by the way, has been making his merry way to the West Coast — on wheels rather than wings.

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Michele Blood is a freelance writer based in Flemington, New Jersey, and a regular contributor to LifeZette.

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