A friend sent me two news stories yesterday, to see what I would make of them.
First, a church pastor in Tennessee is defying the state’s ban on possessing wildlife–in this case, dozens of poisonous snakes kept in the church’s snake room. (Did your church have a snake room? Mine didn’t. If I had known, when I was 10 years old, what I was missing–!) The pastor says that if exceptions can be made for zoos, schools, research facilities or whatever, then his church ought to be allowed to keep rattlers, copperheads, and cottonmouths, too. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/us/tennessee-pastor-disputes-wildlife-possession-charge-by-state.html?_r=0 )
Second: more and more travelers are complaining about airlines allowing passengers to bring their pets aboard–not in cages or carriers, but sitting on the seats or even wandering around loose in the aisle. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/business/emotional-support-with-fur-draws-complaints-on-planes.html?hpw&rref=health&_r=0 ) Thanks to the American Disabilities Act, you can bring pretty much any kind of animal you please onto the plane with you, as long as you’ve got a letter from a “mental health professional” certifying that this dog, cat, or hamster is a “emotional support animal” and not just a pet going on a trip with you. A lot of the other passengers have a hard time understanding that distinction. I am reminded of Mavis Pugh in the classic Fawlty Towers episode, “The Kipper and the Corpse,” bringing her obnoxious little dog into the hotel dining room.
When I read these two stories, a connection leaped immediately to mind.
Why doesn’t the pastor have his poisonous snakes declared emotional support animals? It’d be the easiest thing in the world to find some daft mental health professional who’d gladly write a letter to that effect. Hey, where does it say you can only have your emotional support animals on an airplane?