Yvonne noted in her comment on 5.29.08 that there are no Service Cats to disabled people...
I beg to differ.
Cats are and have been used as Service Animals for quite some time...
One of the many ways in which they are used is to detect seizures and anxiety attacks - before they happen.
I know of several people who have assistive cats. One in particular comes to mind...The person who owns this cat suffers from severe anxiety attacks (that can develop into seizures) - so I do mean severe. In this case the cat travels with her owner everywhere. When the cat senses an attack or seizure coming on she has been trained to signal her owner in several different ways...and she keeps it up until she has her owners attention. This has kept her owner from ending up in the hospital or worse numerous times.
While it is not directly related to this thread...there are numerous animals other than dogs and cats that are trained to be assistive animals....miniature horses are now leading blind people, monkeys are helping people with physical disabilities.......
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I'm glad to see Southwest make this change. I am a part of the cat fancy - ie., I show cats at cat shows. While this change is wonderful for us...we are not the majority of people who travel with animals.
There are a lot of individuals who just want to have their animal companion(s) travel with them. Their pet is a part of their family and the idea of leaving them home, boarding them, having to drive to their destination or worse not being able to travel at all is not acceptable.
For those people leaving negative comments...
The size of the carrier that will fit under a seat is relatively small. For an animal to be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier (one of the requirements of Southwest) they will have to be "small" (we're not talking about a german shepherd or even a cocker spanial - unless it's a young puppy). Even some cat fanciers will have a problem if they have a large cat (as the blog on "Jack Bauer" notes).
The people who are going to PAY to have their pet travel with them are not going to be bringing "smelly" animals on board...they will be well cared for, clean, well mannered pets or show animals.
A small, clean pet in a carrier (especially a soft side one with mesh inserts) does not release a lot of pet dander (dander is the cause of allergic pet reactions, not the hair).
I realize that there are some people who are allergic to cat or dog dander. I am allergic to the majority of perfume essences. Yet I still travel. I always have allergy medication with me and I make sure to advise the airline when I make my reservation.
I would suggest that Southwest find a way to ask all passengers when they purchase their ticket if they have ANY allergic issues. Then if they are booked on a flight that also has an animal on board, or someone who is awash in perfume, measures can be taken to decrease the risk to everyone.
Let's be reasonable people...we can work this out
Southwest, I applaud you on your decision.
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