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Airline: ‘Emotional support’ pig kicked off flight for being disruptive

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Posted at 3:16 PM, Nov 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-30 17:16:02-05

(CNN) — A woman was kicked off a US Airways flight after the pig she brought for “emotional support” became disruptive, an airline spokeswoman told CNN.

The passenger and her large pig were booted from the flight before it left Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport on Wednesday, spokeswoman Laura Masvidal said.

“After the animal became disruptive, the passenger was asked to deplane,” she said.

How disruptive? Fellow passengers told the Hartford Courant that the pig ran up and down the aisle and defecated before the crew asked the woman to leave.

“One lady was complaining because it started to smell like a barnyard,” passenger Rob Phelps told the Courant.

Masvidal did not know where the flight was headed. The passenger was allowed to bring the pig on board as an “emotional support animal” under Department of Transportation guidelines.

“We follow all DOT guidelines,” she said.

“Emotional support animals” have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to those guidelines.

In 2003, the DOT updated its policy regarding animals in air transportation to say “animals that assist persons with disabilities by providing emotional support” qualify as service animals. It’s up to airline personnel to determine whether an animal is a service animal by seeking “credible verbal assurances,” looking for physical indicators on the animal or requesting documentation for service animals.

When it comes to emotional support animals, airlines may require supporting documentation from a mental health professional. The documentation should state that the passenger has a mental health-related disability and that “having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment or to assist the passenger.”

It is not clear whether the passenger on Wednesday’s flight provided such documentation.

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN.