When Morgan Duffy planned her trip from Los Angeles to Tokyo, she wanted to make sure that her emotional support animal could travel with her. Sprinkles, a 12-pound Australian terrier, is Duffy’s ESA and drastically reduces her anxiety and fear of flying.
“Between the stress of getting to the plane and boarding on time and the stimulation of the plane itself, it’s a very anxious experience for me. But Sprinkles knows just what to do, and him sleeping in my lap eases my stress,” Duffy said.
Upon their return to LA, Sprinkles was a bit shaken because of all the strange people who were constantly trying to touch him, take his picture and talk to him like a baby. “He’s three, but that’s 21 in his years, so it’s pretty patronizing,” said Duffy.
The fact that it all happened in a vibrating rocket soaring nearly a mile in the air for over 12 hours didn’t help either.
Sprinkles worked closely with his veterinarian and came to the realization that for future travels he also needed an emotional support animal to reduce his stress. Despite a flood of businesses preying on well-intentioned people who want to follow the rules, emotional support animals don’t require any paperwork, training or registration. However, due to a 2021 U.S. Department of Transportation rule, this may vary between airlines.
When reached for comment, Sprinkles’ lawyer shared this prepared response:
“My client is a terrier who can hear incredibly high frequencies. His ability to stay in one place for that long is certainly commendable, but we are striving for a world where his needs are met and he can go to work unimpeded. Since it is unrealistic to expect people to mind their business and not harass him during his shift, he has chosen to take on the services of a small lizard to assist him with his mental health needs.”
The lizard’s name is Pringle, and she will ride on his back like a weighted blanket throughout future flights. Pringle will wear a cowboy hat, but that’s not related to her job. She just likes the look.