Southwest Airlines announced this week their most recent list of acceptable service animals, a new lineup that apparently includes cats, dogs, and….miniature horses.
“In alignment with recent DOT guidance, Southwest will accept only the most common service animals—dogs, cats, and miniature horses,” Southwest said in a statement Tuesday. “For the health and safety of our Customers and Employees, unusual or exotic animals will not be accepted.”
By definition, miniature horses can’t stand above 38 inches at the withers – i.e., the bottom of their mane – and can weigh anywhere between 150 and 350 pounds.
The airline added it’s now limiting "emotional support animals" to dogs and cats and is now requiring all animals be kept on leashes or in kennels.
Southwest’s update comes amid a pretty public discussion over people’s odd choice of service and “emotional support” animals. One woman from Brooklyn made a big public to-do last January after United Airlines refused to let her board a plane with her emotional support peacock, while another woman threatened to sue Spirit Airlines, alleging the company forced her to flush her emotional support hamster down a toilet. Passengers and flight crew across a whole range of airlines have also complained about allergies, biting incidents and animals defecating in the cabins.
Multiple airlines, including Southwest and Delta, have had to issue public restrictions against people bringing rodents, pigs, spiders and snakes onboard their aircrafts.
Unbeknownst to me before this story broke, there’s apparently a pretty popular debate in the service animal world over whether horses actually qualify for this designation. Proponents argue horses are better service animals than dogs because they live longer, whereas critiques are far less generous.
Probably because at the end of the day, you’re still bringing a horse on a public plane.