DiscoverScience VsPets on Planes: Are Emotional Support Animals Legit?
Pets on Planes: Are Emotional Support Animals Legit?

Pets on Planes: Are Emotional Support Animals Legit?

Update: 2019-04-0412


Can petting Fluffy or Fido help with anxiety on planes? Or are emotional support animals a load of croc? We talk to psychologist Prof. Hal Herzog to find out if science has anything to say on whether these pets should fly high or be grounded.

Check out the full transcript here:

Selected references: Hal’s critical review on whether pets can improve mental health Study showing that blankets worked just as well as dogs to reduce anxiety in childrenHere’s a good article describing the differences between emotional support animals and service animals A couple reviews on the evidence that animal-assisted therapy can help with psychiatric illnesses

Credits: This episode was produced by Meryl Horn, with help from Wendy Zukerman, Rose Rimler, and Michelle Dang. Our senior producer is Kaitlyn Sawrey. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Fact checking by Diane Kelly and Michelle Dang. Mix and sound design by Peter Leonard. Music by Peter Leonard, Emma Munger and Bobby Lord. A huge thanks to all the researchers we got in touch with for this episode, including Molly Crossman, Dr. Karen Thodberg, Cassie Boness, Dr. Rob Young, and Dr. Helen Louise Brooks. Also thanks to the Zukerman Family, and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.

Comments (12)

Max Almonte

If someone is so attached to an animal that need it to take a fly, obviously that person has serious problems.

Jul 27th

Paula Massey

We have pet rabbits so I'm in a bunny owner's group on Facebook. One of the members of that group was literally stressing...stressing about taking her emotional support rabbit on a plane. How is that helpful? Giving you something other than the plane ride to stress about? I don't get it. Ugh.

Jul 16th
Reply (1)

Gabby Knox

I'm really disappointed they didn't once mention the difference between accredited service dog's and emotional support animal.

Apr 23rd


So. What about people who have mental disabilities that experience notable differences that weren't there with other comfort attempts doing little to nothing? It was a last ditch effort and worked better than anything so far. It wasn't 100% but it was noticably helpful. I'm just curious about how that works if there's no proof that it does help me.

Apr 11th

Apple Betty

What?? THAT was the shortest episode ever, I feel like I've been ripped off.

Apr 4th
Reply (6)
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Pets on Planes: Are Emotional Support Animals Legit?

Pets on Planes: Are Emotional Support Animals Legit?