By Daily Mail Reporter
Maybe pigs can fly after all.
Pot-bellied pigs, as well as miniature horses and monkeys, could be permitted to travel on planes under new Department of Transportation rules.
The guidelines are part of a draft manual on equality for disabled people traveling on commercial passenger planes.
Animals should be allowed on flights if they are used for ‘emotional support’ by their owners, the manual states.
Transportation officers would have to determine whether the animal is permitted on the plane by running through a list of guidelines.
‘A passenger arrives at the gate accompanied by a pot-bellied pig,’ the manual states. ‘She claims that the pot-bellied pig is her service animal. What should you do?’
According to CNSNews, it continues: ‘Generally, you must permit a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal.
‘However, if you have a reasonable basis for questioning whether the animal is a service animal, you may ask for some verification.’
Airline employees should enquire about how the animal aids the passenger and what training it has had.
If the employee has doubts that the animal is a service animal, they can ask for further verification or call a Complaints Resolution Official.
WHAT SUPPORT CAN THESE ANIMALS GIVE?
Service animals help perform some of the tasks that people with a disability have difficulty with or cannot perform for themselves.
Pot-bellied pigs, which can weigh upto 300 lbs, are favoured service animals for people allergic to dogs. They are intelligent companions and attuned to dangerous situations.
Miniature horses work as guide animals for the blind and visually-impaired. They are more cost-effective than guide dogs as their life spans are longer, around 30-40 years. They are also chosen for their calm natures, excellent eyesight and stamina, according to the Guide Horse Foundation.
‘Finally, if you determine that the pot-bellied pig is a service animal, you must permit the service animal to accompany the passenger to her seat provided the animal does not obstruct the aisle or present any safety issues and the animal is behaving appropriately in a public setting,’ the manual adds.
Pot-bellied pigs can grow as large as 300 pounds. They can be trained to open and close doors and use a litter box.
‘They seem to have a sense if the owner is not feeling well to stay by them,’ said Wendy Ponzo, from the North American Potbellied Pig Association.
Ponzo, who has multiple sclerosis, added: ‘They help me a great deal when I feel at my worst.’
Not all animals that could help humans are allowed in the cabin, including ferrets, rodents, spiders and snakes.
But miniature horses and monkeys are also ‘commonly used service animals’ and are allowed inside, the manual states.
It adds that cases will be dealt with individually and animals can be turned away if they are too large or heavy, or will cause disruption.
The owner must also provide a ‘relief area’ for his or her animal.
The rules come despite the TSA banning less potentially troubling items, such as sporting goods and snow globes.
They are outlined in the DoT’s Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Draft Technical Assistance Manual.
The manual, which is open for public comments until October, is designed to ‘help carriers … provide services or facilities to passengers with disabilities’.