And then there is a question of safety. Just last week Joseph Hamric, a 60-year-old man in Chesapeake, Va., was attacked by his service monkey, Noah.
Noah was out of his cage to eat pork chops when he turned on his owner. Hamric, a Vietnam vet, got the monkey to help him cope with post traumatic stress.
The attack started when Hamric accidently stepped on the Noah's tail. The monkey snapped back, locking onto Hamric's thumb, then cut his vein and ligaments in his wrist. Hamric was treated and released from a local hospital and decided, at the urging of local animal control officers, to give up the monkey.
At least, he wasn't at 30,000 feet at the time.
Megan Talbert, executive director of Helping Hands, said that monkey was not one trained by her group.
"It is important to note that Helping Hands service animals are individually and professionally trained to perform tasks for individuals who are physically disabled as a result of spinal cord injury or disease. Our service monkeys are not trained to provide emotional support for people with PTSD or other anxiety disorders," she said.
Talbert said the organization flies about once a month with a monkey to place it with a new owner. The group informs the TSA of its travel plans about a week beforehand.
"We alert them anytime one of our animals is going to fly," Talbert said. "They're wonderful. They've been very, very helpful."
Once on the plane, the monkeys are held in carriers underneath the seats in front of the Helping Hands members, preventing any onboard safety risk to passengers. Talbert said it would be highly unusual for somebody else to be flying with a monkey.
"The people we place monkeys with are so severely disabled that it's very difficult for them to travel long distances outside their home," she said. "It's more than likely that if they travel, one of our monkeys would stay at home with a friend or neighbor."
The monkeys are trained to be service animals for the home, not for public spaces, she said.
"It's not like they would be able to help somebody on vacation," Talbert said. "So it's very, very rare that a client would travel with their monkey."