What does a dead puppy say about sheep?
We’ve all heard the news by now. A puppy was forced into an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight, and it died.
The universe rightly went into a meltdown, although it was interesting watching the different reasons for it.
Half the people put all the blame on the flight attendant, who was adamant the woman put her dog in the overhead locker. Then there was a bunch of people who also held the owner to blame, asking why she didn’t stand her ground. Then there was all the people who hate dogs, and wondered why it was on a flight to begin with.
Now, it’s early days, and I’m sure there’s more to the original story. There’s always a couple different spins, but given that United has actually taken blame for it, I’m guessing the FA was at fault here.
Here’s the thing about the US. They are very dog friendly. Much more so than Australia. A dog isn’t something bought for the kids, and left in the backyard. It’s a member of the pack. People treat them like family, because, they are. If you’re not willing to treat your dog like a child, then I suggest you don’t get one. Your dog depends on you. It loves you. It basically lives for you, just like your human children do. You need to feed it, groom it, provide it with shelter, and just like a human child, teach it manners. You might have a lot of people in your life, but your dog basically just has you. So treat it with the respect it deserves.
In the US, many hotels are pet friendly, there are restaurants that have special doggie menus, and generally, it’s just way more dog inclusive, especially in the more affluent areas.
There’s pampered pets, then you’ve got dogs with jobs.
A lot of people don’t understand the difference between Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Emotional Support Animals.
Basically, it’s about what it does, and what rights you have with it.
A service dog performs a service. Most people immediately recognise a seeing eye dog, but many people don’t know that there’s literally donzens of different types of service dogs, and not all people’s disabilites are visible. There are dogs for people with epilepsy. The dogs can sense before a seizure, and alert the owner, giving them time to find a better spot, or seek assistance. There are dogs for diabetics, who can sniff when their owners blood sugar is low. There are hearing dogs, for people who are both completely deaf, or like me, partially deaf. The dog will alert their owner of sounds, and can lead them to it. Whether it’s the timer on the stove, or a fire alarm. There are dogs that help service members with PTSD. The dog can see when their owner is getting agitated, and redirects them. They can also wake them from nightmares. There are so many more examples, it’d need a post just for that…
Except for the blind person, none of these other people have visible disabilites, yet they all use service dogs. You can’t tell by them walking down the street if they have a service dog, or are just a person walking their pet, and a lot of people with disabilites like it that way.
Just like all disabilites are different, so are the animals. People always think of golden retrievers or german shepards, but it’s not a requirement. In England one of the biggest hearing dogs training facilites uses poodles. A seizure or diabetic dog can be any breed, as long as it’s well trained. “Small yappy dogs” can actually make exceptional service animals.
Then there are therapy dogs. You might have seen one at a nursing home, or at a trauma center. They even have them at some airports now. These dogs are basically like furry therapists. It’s been shown that petting an animal can lower a persons blood pressure, and relieve stress. So these guys are out there to help people feel good. They work with lots of different people, and have to have a very loving temperament, and be good at meeting lots of new people.
Then there’s an emotional support animal. This is an animal that is basically a pet, but provides their owner with comfort. It’s like a personal shrink.
Now, in the US, a service dog has legally protected status. Well, technically the owner is protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilites Act) They can take their service animal with them anywhere they go, including restaurants, supermarkets and airplanes. They can live in places with no animal policies, and they can fly for free with their owners.
There is no requirement for the animal to have been trained in a special facility, although many are. It’s very expensive though, and many people successfully train their own service anials to their specific needs. So many people have been faking service animals though, that the FAA has made it so you now have to show some sort of training to fly with your dog. It can fly at your feet or on your lap and doesn’t need to be in a carrier.
A therapy dog has obedience training, and has to pass veterinary tests before it can be used in a public setting. They don’t have any rights on aircraft.
An ESA is a pet. It has no rights, except for when people get a letter from a psychiatrist or therapist stating they need their dog with them when they fly. It dog doesn’t need to stay in a carrier, since you theoretically need the dog where you can access it while flying. They get to fly for free, but you do have to contact the airline at least 48 hrs in advance to let them know you have an ESA, and provide a copy of the letter.
Then there are pets. Depending on the airline, most dogs under 20 lbs (about 9kg) can fly with you in the cabin, in an approved carrier, for a fee. Most airlines charge between $100 – $200 for a pet fee, each way. They also count as one of your carry on bags. It has to fit in under the seat in front of you, and you cannot take the dog out of the bag at any time during the flight.
It’s expensive, and the reason so many people are faking service and therapy dogs is probably because it is so expensive. If airlines made it cheaper, people would probably pay to fly their dog. There’s also a limit on how many dogs can be on each flight. Most airlines max out at 5. They also know in advance when a dog is on a flight, so people who do have allergies can request an animal free flight.
Now, people complain about dogs on flights, but honestly, I’ve never had a problem with a pet on a flight. It’s inside a bag, so it’s not spreading dander everywhere. It’s not running around and slobbering on anyone, and it’s definately not biting anyone. I can’t same the same thing for some children.
Genuine service animals are a delight. They are so well behaved, unless you saw it, you probably wouldn’t know it was on a flight with you. They are always well groomed, never beg for treats, go up to strangers, or annoy anyone. If you see a service animal, please don’t go up and try to pet it. It’s working. Leave it be to focus on it’s owner, no matter how adorable it is.
The ESAs are usually the problem. Not all, but some. Most people have well trained dogs, keep them groomed, and keep them contained in their lap. Other people though have dogs that really should be kept in a carrier, but there’s a lot of selfish entitled people out there, and they don’t really care if their dog bothers anyone.
Larger dogs can be put in the cargo hold, but only certain breeds of dogs. Snub nose dogs like pugs, boston terriers, etc cannot fly in the hold. It’s also weather dependant. It can get very hot or very cold, and most carriers won’t take dogs in the hold in the middle of summer or winter. It’s not safe. Dogs don’t have an inner ear like humans, so unlike us, they don’t need to pop their ears in flight. So while that baby is crying (understandably) the dog is just fine.
Dogs are so frequent now that many airports are putting in designated Pet Relief Areas so that you can take them potty between flights, without having to go outside security.
Which all brings me back to the puppy on United.
A lot of people are complaining about dogs on planes, and especially about service/ESA dogs. Apart from the fact that ESA dogs are giving service dogs a bad name, and making it difficult for people with service dogs, there’s actually no reason to bring that up with this particular dog. There is no indication that it was passed off as a service or ESA dog. It was brought on as a pet, inside an approved carrier. The dog wasn’t bothering anyone, except apparently the flight attendant, who may have been tired of fake service animals or ESAs. Or they just didn’t like dogs. Or were on a power trip. We don’t know.
But given this woman PAID to take her dog on board, inside an approved carrier, shows that she was genuinly trying to do the right thing. She spent money to do the right thing. She had a child and a small baby with her as well as the puppy. She was probably already overwhelmed traveling with a kid and an infant, without some FA fighting with her over a dog.
Which brings me to the sheep.
Other people on this flight watched this happen. They saw a woman with a child, a baby, and a dog. They saw the FA fighting with her. They watched the mother stand up for her pet, before finally relenting. She probably didn’t want to get dragged off the flight. United doesn’t have a good track record with people or animals, and she was probably scared.
But what about the other passengers? Are we all so passive now that nobody thought about standing up to the FA? Did anyone else think to speak back to them and just watched as the dog was put in an airless bin? Did nobody else think about what they would do if it was their own dog? People said they heard the dog barking, and then it stopped. Why didn’t anyone help her get the dog back down again once they took off?
People are sheep. They are so scared of the wolf, they won’t step out on their own. But if we stand as a pack, if multiple people stand up, they can’t hurt us all. Even if one or two other people had stepped up and said something, this situation could have been prevented. Someone could have called for the captain. They have the ultimate say on a flight, and I’m guessing they wouldn’t have been ok with a dog being shoved up above.
If we won’t stand up for a dog, who else won’t we stand up for? I’m tired of people standing by and watching bad things happen, and not having the balls to step up and say something. Yes, sometimes it comes with risk, but what happens when you’re the one who needs someone to stand up and help you? Do you accept that people won’t, or do you hope someone else will take a chance on doing the right thing?
If you see a scared young girl on a flight, do you check up on her, and make sure she’s ok, or do you just think, “it’s none of my business” and keep going. How do you reconcile that later when you find out she was a human trafficking victim? Or that she was a minor flying alone, and the guy sitting next to her was touching her inappropriately?
It costs you nothing to be a good person. It free to give someone a smile. It takes a minute to give someone a comforting word, and ask if they need help. Be the hero in someone’s story. Don’t be the one to post a picture on Instagram crying saying you did nothing.