Loyola University New Orleans

Emotional support animals — from dogs to peacocks, real or fake — present challenges for businesses

Emotional support animals — from dogs to peacocks, real or fake — present challenges for businesses

The peacock was just the tip of the iceberg.

An emotional support peacock named Dexter kicked off a controversy last month when United Airlines refused to allow the bird to board a flight leaving Newark, N.J. In an instant, the peacock became a symbol of the growing number of emotional support animals accompanying their owners onto airplanes and into stores and other places of business.

There is no official tally of emotional support animals, which don’t have to go through special training or have any certifications; most are simply recommended by a doctor or therapist. Nevertheless, the number of companies that say they provide those certifications is growing and with that,...

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