An American Airlines passenger took her miniature horse — a service animal called “Flirty” — on a flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday.
Photos and video posted to social media by bemused but delighted passengers showed the horse, a 27-inch-tall mare, walking around the airport, passing through airport security, and sitting quietly in a foot well during the flight.
Flirty’s owner is Abrea Hensley, who sufferers from depression, severe anxiety, and PTSD, and is allergic to dogs, the most common service animal choice.
In a post on Flirty’s Instagram account, Hensley said the horse handled the 90-minute flight “like a pro.” It was the first time Flirty had taken an airplane.
“I have to say how impressed I am with how Flirty did on this trip. She took it all in stride like a pro,” she wrote.
“Once we achieved cruising altitude, she stood quietly and even took a nap! She managed the takeoff and landing pretty well, though she did have to work hard to keep her balance.”
Hensley told KMTV 3 news that Flirty reminds her to take her medication, helps her keep her balance in crowds, and soothes her anxiety.
The Americans with Disabilities Act states a service animal is one “trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”
In regard to miniature horses, the law says “business must allow a person with a disability to bring a miniature horse on the premises as long as it has been individually trained.”
Service animals are typically allowed to be taken to most public places, and airlines cannot charge fees for service animals to travel.
American Airlines issued a statement about Flirty, which said: “This miniature horse was a trained service animal, which American Airlines accepts onboard following evaluation on a case-by-case basis.”
“We recognise the important role trained service dogs, cats and miniature horses can play in lives of those with disabilities and they are welcome in the cabin, at no charge, if they meet the requirements.”
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