The other day we were out walking and passed a lady…and her giant tortoise. This required a conversation. Should an emotional support turtle be allowed on airplanes so this dear lady can fly?
An Encounter With An Emotional Support Turtle
My wife’s jaw dropped as a lady with a tortoise passed by, with the tortoise walking at a human’s pace. I didn’t bat an eye…we do live in Los Angeles after all. But she snuck a picture and then struck up a conversation.
Milo is over 100 years old. Yes, this little turtle has seen the world transform over the decades and remains healthy thanks to a strict diet and frequent exercise (tortoises can live up to 150 years).
He also provides emotion support to Carol, his “mother” who affectionally calls him her firstborn son. Carol has children in Colorado but has not seen them in years. “They don’t let me take Milo onboard,” she complained.
Carol met Milo after her husband was killed in a horrific car crash. She survived, but awoke with nightmares and panic attacks as late as three years after the incident. A friend suggested a turtle and she found Milo.
That was 10 years ago. Milo rarely leaves her side these days and she is unwilling to travel without him. She also has glaucoma and rheumatoid arthritis, making long car trips difficult.
Even before the current tightening up of restrictions against emotional support animals on airplanes, reptiles were not permitted. That has kept her off airplanes.
She’s not unreasonable, noting that she can understand why others would be uncomfortable with the turtle onboard, but was quick to note that he is “trained” not to make a mess.
I think we (myself included) are often quick to joke and be dismissive of emotional support animals. Whether her attachment to Milo is objectively necessary, Carol helped me to see how important her unorthodox emotional support animal was to her well-being. Should Milo be allowed to fly if he buys his own seats? Probably not, but it at least got me thinking…
Should Milo be allowed to fly?
If he’s in a carrier in a paid seat, why not? Sure it’s a little strange but I believe that humans don’t have allergic reactions to the presence of turtles.
Let’s see- completely silent, hypoallergenic, unable to escape from his owner, no odor, and can go days without needing to eat or relive himself. I’ll take tortoises over pretty much any other support animal I’ve encountered on planes.
ZJ12 makes some valid points. I would add that turtles don’t cry, whine, or kick the seat in front of them. Nor do they bark, pant or leave fur on the seat.
Are you a turtle? You bet your sweet a** I am.
All pets are emotional support animals. That’s what a pet is.
And what kind of “friend” recommends a giant tortoise as a pet?
Personally I’d have nightmares and bad dreams if I had a giant turtle near me.
Sorry to hear about the lady’s horrible accident but there has to be better ways to deal with things like this especially after a number of years.
Turtles may be hypoallergenic, but turtles (like all lizards) are dangerous, especially to to pregnant women, young children, cancer patients and other immunocompromised individuals.
The salmonella that they often carry can survive for long periods on surfaces that they touch.
Sorry, not sorry. They shouldn’t be on the plane.
(and to be clear, yes, I know that a turtle is not a lizard – lizards can also carry salmonella)
But in California you’re about 10 million times more likely to get a salmonella infection from a bag of supermarket salad than any potential , and minuscule, risk from a giant turtle…
That’s not even remotely true.
“Turtles can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings and look healthy and clean, regardless of their size or where they were purchased. These germs can easily spread to their bodies, tank water, and habitats. People can get sick after they touch a turtle or anything in their habitats.”
Sorry, if you can’t fly without a freaking turtle I don’t think you should fly at all. Find a better way to deal with your emotional problems.
Absolutely yes…I’d be thrilled and delighted to share a cabin with Milo.
@Matt : HELL…… no!
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell goes in the cargohold, next to the skis and snowboards
I think it’s important to consider that many peoples concern with ESAs is the abuse of the designation, not it’s existence. There are certainly some people, although probably not many, who have a legitimate need for an emotional support animal, and it seems that this woman is one of them. The fact that she needs an ESA doesn’t make abuse on the part of others who just want to bring their pet on a plane legitimate.
The biggest abuse is pets flying free. With that loophole closed, will people try to claim kids should fly free? After all, if your child is missing, you become emotional. Therefore, kids are emotional support animals!
If paid, then the potential for abuse is less. However, turtles have bactrial problems. Not sure why. Maybe their arms are too short to clean poop??? But poop tends to be enterococcus not salmonella?????