Navigating the World with Your Pygmy Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals provide aid to individuals with psychiatric, physical, or intellectual disabilities that may interfere with their ability to navigate the world. In order to obtain an emotional support animal and necessary documentation, you must have an official Emotional Support Animal Letter written by a licensed mental health professional—a psychiatrist, licensed clinical social worker, or psychologist. Typical qualifying conditions include, but are not limited to: PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic disorder/panic attacks, mood disorders, personality disorders, social anxiety disorder, fear/phobias, and seasonal affective disorder.

 

These animals do not need specific training to become an emotional support animal. In fact, these animals are rarely regarded as “service animals”–many modes of transport consider them to be companion animals. As a result, some airlines, trains, and other modes of public transportation may not extend service animal policies to your emotional support pet. If you plan to travel, it is always necessary to check eligibility ahead of time.

Though typically dogs, emotional support animals can be cats or other species. Choosing an emotional support animal can be an exciting experience, but keep potential travel restrictions in mind during your selection process. If certain transportation providers do not consider emotional support animals to provide a service, you should choose a companion who fits the standard requirements for safe pet travel. In most cases, this will allow you to bring an animal along in a carrier; you may have to pay a standard pet fee, but your animal’s size will not prevent him from traveling.

 

To that end, selecting a pygmy pet as an emotional support animal is an excellent option. Their small size allows them to enter most spaces and modes of transportation, but they are able to perform all necessary emotional support functions. Pygmy animals are also known for their friendliness and calm demeanor, which is always helpful in an emotional support animal. However, be sure to select a travel-friendly species, such as a cat or dog. Airlines and trains have strict species and breed restrictions which may interfere with your animal’s ability to travel—even if their pygmy size fits within weight and height limitations. Pygmy rabbits, for example, are popular emotional support animals, but they are banned on most airlines. In checking a transit provider’s pet and service animal policy, you are more able to select an appropriate emotional support animal.

 

The Advantages of Traveling with Pygmy Animals

Pet travel is almost always a complicated process complicated. Your mode of travel will determine the type of animal you are allowed to bring along, but certain animal features can broaden your range of options while decreasing potential cost. Luckily, pygmy pets exemplify some of the most important pet travel traits—size and demeanor. Below, we have unpacked these characteristics to explain why they may be helpful when planning your upcoming trip.

 

  • Size—The most obvious advantage of traveling with a pygmy pet is their size. Necessarily small, these creatures should not an issue fitting into a travel carrier. This is important if your method of travel imposes size, weight, and kennel requirements. Most transit providers require there to be a certain amount of space available for the animal to move around within a container. If the pet is small, you will be able to easily navigate carrier size restrictions while accounting for this extra comfort volume.

Additionally, if your pets are small enough, you may be able to save additional costs. Two pygmy pets, such as hedgehogs, may be able to fit within a single container, saving potentially hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. You will not have to purchase separate carriers, and—if you are flying by air—you will be able to avoid a second pet travel fee. However, you should always check with your transit provider ahead of time; not all airlines and trains allow for this consolidation.

 

  • Personality—Most pygmy animals—especially goats and pigs—are described as having a friendly, personable demeanor. Pet travel success is dependent upon an animal’s ability to withstand stressful situations, and a pygmy animal’s attitude may be conducive to effective transit. However, this should not be taken as permission to travel with any pygmy animal. Though certain species are more likely to develop anxiety than others, you should always assess your individual animal’s ability to travel.

 

Though pygmy pets may be more conducive to transportation, pet parents should understand that the term “pygmy” is not an automatic qualifier for safe animal travel. As we’ve demonstrated, pygmy is often a misnomer—in most cases, it is used to refer to an animal’s size relative to species average, which is often very large. Trying to board an airplane with a 90-pound “pygmy pig” will result in your inability to fly. Similarly, putting your pygmy horse in the backseat of your car is never accessible; his ability to fit within a space has little to do with the safety of a particular travel situation.

Pygmy Pet Travel: Planes

Traveling with an animal is always stressful, but the strict schedules and regulations necessitated by air travel exacerbate the anxiety. Luckily, one factor can mitigate potential stress of flying—your animal’s size. This is where traveling with a pygmy animal can be advantageous; rather than stressing out about size restrictions, you can focus on preparing your pet for the trip ahead and making him comfortable on the day of travel.

 

General Guidelines and why Small Animals Help

Airlines impose strict regulations on an animal’s size and weight. In most cases, the animal and carrier cannot weigh more than fifteen to twenty-five pounds combined, but specific limitations are imposed by each airline. Unless your pet is a service animal, he must fit within a container and under the seat in front of you; this restriction results in very strict carrier size limitations. Traveling with a small animal is an excellent way to guarantee his ability to fly.

If you are traveling with more than one pygmy animal, check your airline’s carrier restrictions. If the pets are small enough to fit two comfortably within a single carrier, most providers will you to bring both without incurring an additional fee. However, this service is not always guaranteed, so it is essential to check before purchasing a carrier and plane ticket.

 

A Warning About Ungulates and other Species

Many of the pygmy pets features on this website are hoofed, or ungulate mammals. In fact, most pygmy animals people keep as pets are hoofed—pigs, sheep, donkeys, goats, and horses. While young, your animal should be able to fit into most airline-approved carriers. As they get older, you will have a difficult time finding a size and weight limit to accommodate your pet. In these cases, you may opt to have your animal travel as cargo, where their size will, likely, not be an issue.

However, before booking a plane ticket or live animal shipment, check with your carrier for specific airline pet policies. Many airlines prohibit ungulates—hoofed mammals—and other untraditional pets from flying in the cabin or as checked baggage, even if they are provided for emotional support or mental health. If you cannot find any such restrictions, call your airline to ask directly; there is nothing worse than a last-minute travel cancellation.