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?