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    Delta and United Tighten Rules on Service Animals


    Jefferson Adams
    • Delta or United airlines have imposed strict new requirements for service and emotional support animals, including gluten sniffing dogs for celiac disease patients.

    Delta and United Tighten Rules on Service Animals
    Image Caption: Image: CC--Scott 97006

    Celiac.com 04/18/2018 - To the relief of many bewildered passengers and crew, no more comfort turkeys, geese, possums or other questionable pets will be flying on Delta or United without meeting the airlines' strict new requirements for service animals.

    If you’ve flown anywhere lately, you may have seen them. People flying with their designated “emotional support” animals. We’re not talking genuine service animals, like seeing eye dogs, or hearing ear dogs, or even the Belgian Malinois that alerts its owner when there is gluten in food that may trigger her celiac disease.

    Now, to be honest, some of those animals in question do perform a genuine service for those who need emotional support dogs, like veterans with PTSD.

    However, many of these animals are not service animals at all. Many of these animals perform no actual service to their owners, and are nothing more than thinly disguised pets. Many lack proper training, and some have caused serious problems for the airlines and for other passengers.

    Now the major airlines are taking note and introducing stringent requirements for service animals.

    Delta was the first to strike. As reported by the New York Times on January 19: “Effective March 1, Delta, the second largest US airline by passenger traffic, said it will require passengers seeking to fly with pets to present additional documents outlining the passenger’s need for the animal and proof of its training and vaccinations, 48 hours prior to the flight.… This comes in response to what the carrier said was a 150 percent increase in service and support animals — pets, often dogs, that accompany people with disabilities — carried onboard since 2015.… Delta said that it flies some 700 service animals a day. Among them, customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders, and other unusual pets.”

    Fresh from an unsavory incident with an “emotional support” peacock incident, United Airlines has followed Delta’s lead and set stricter rules for emotional support animals. United’s rules also took effect March 1, 2018.

    So, to the relief of many bewildered passengers and crew, no more comfort turkeys, geese, possums or other questionable pets will be flying on Delta or United without meeting the airlines' strict new requirements for service and emotional support animals.

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    It’s about time. I have 2 friends with service dogs for their ptsd. One friend, her dog does more, as she’s been stabbed, shot, etc.  Well, other person’s ‘service dog’ approached her dog, and attacked it. No true service dog attacks, barks (unless trained for a reason). People are way too entitled.

    Now, I never heard of a gluten sniffing dog. If I could only train my dog! But he would eat what I put in front of him to sniff. :)

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, and science. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com.

    Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book Dangerous Grains by James Braly, MD and Ron Hoggan, MA.

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    To become so accomplished at gluten-detection, Elias spent weeks in Slovenia undergoing intense gluten-detection training, and now he can detect and warn her away from anything containing gluten, hot or cold, in all its many forms. Teaching a dog to be alert to the scent of gluten is more challenging than other scent-detection training, precisely because gluten comes in so many forms. When it's time for Elias to do the sniff test for Scott, she places a cover with holes over the item, and the dog takes a sniff. If Elias smells gluten, he tries to pull the item away from her; if it's safe, he just looks away. To help Elias keep his edge, Scott tests him daily with known gluten-containing foods, and adds in products she hopes are gluten-free.
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    Tina Turbin
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    Celiac.com 02/07/2011 - Maintaining a diet completely free of gluten can be a challenge for celiac disease patients, especially when it comes to avoiding cross-contamination. Currently there is only one treatment for celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction caused by exposure to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—and this treatment is the elimination of gluten from the diet. Despite our best efforts, gluten can sneak its way into our food, making us quite ill. While home testing kits are available to test food for gluten, these can be an inconvenience when dining out and can only detect 10 ppm of gluten or more. A recent article published by USA Today has made waves in the gluten-free world, making us aware of another method of testing for gluten—using gluten-detecting dogs.
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    Elias was trained in Slovenia over the course of many weeks for his gluten detection training. Now he has the capability of detecting gluten in all sorts of hot and cold foods.  According to USA Today, “Teaching a dog to be alert to the scent of gluten is much more complicated than most scent-detection training, because gluten comes in so many forms.” Gluten can appear in bread and cereal products and can be processed in many different ways. It can also appear in less obvious products as binders or thickeners, in foods such as salad dressing and even in products such as Play-doh and lipstick.
    How does Elias do his job? Scott places a cover punctured with holes over the item while Elias sniffs it. Scott also practices with him on a daily basis, giving him gluten-containing items to test for her. When Elias detects gluten, he pulls the item away, and if there’s nothing to worry about, he looks away. Getting a gluten-detection dog may not be an option for many of us celiacs, but vigilantly reading labels, contacting companies, and clearly communicating with servers, chefs, and hosts can greatly reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Another option is a testing kit such as EZ Gluten® by ELISA Technologies, which is sensitive enough to detect 10 ppm in your food. Unfortunately, as USA Today says, “even hyper-vigilance isn't a 100% guarantee.” If you are particularly sensitive to gluten, as is Scott, getting a gluten-detection dog may be a smart idea. Perhaps in the future, gluten-detection dogs may be more widely used.
    With an increase in research and awareness, we have not only witnessed an increase in celiac disease diagnosis, but also several advancements, for instance the availability of products such as home gluten testing kits, home celiac testing kits, and gluten-digesting enzyme formulas, which have all contributed toward making gluten-free living less of a challenge. Gluten-detecting dog training is yet another advancement, which I hope will have a positive impact on the lives of severe celiac cases such as Hollie Scott.  
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    ELISA Technologies: EZ Gluten® http://www.elisa-tek.com/ez%20gluten.htm Gluten Free Society: Gluten Detecting Dogs http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/gluten-detecting-dogs/ Two Little Cavaliers: Gluten Detection Dog  http://blogs.dogtime.com/two-little-cavaliers/2011/01/gluten-detection-dog USA Today: Pet Talk: Show dog knows his business, and his gluten http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/pets/dogs/2011-01-11-pettalk11_ST_N.htm 

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