Transcript for Cow cuddling and beyond: the changing landscape of support animals
Here's ABC's Maggie Rulli. Reporter: She and her therapy horse are quite the sight. Flirty always attracts a lot of attention. Going out with flirty is definitely interesting. Reporter: Flirty even took to the skies. The FAA has just cleared miniature horses to fly. It was the first time flirty had ever flown. Everybody at the airport was really nice and helpful. The experience itself was really and truly one of the most freeing experiences that I've had recently. It's not something I plan on doing a lot, just because it is a lot to ask with flirty. Reporter: But not everyone was thrilled to see a horse on a plane. One woman, speaking out to "Inside edition" to express her concerns. I wanted to say it's a little bit crazy. I I don't think it's a good idea. Reporter: She says she battled PTSD for years before it was suggested a service animal might help her symptoms. I was allergic to dogs. Miniature horses are the only alternative allowed under the Ada. We just immediately had a connection. Before I have an anxiety attack she can predict. She will sit there and nudge me until I start to calm down. Reporter: The use of service animals has expanded over the years. Once reserved for vision and hearing-impaired, service animals are now commonly seen in courtrooms to assist children during difficult testimonies and by veterans who suffer with PTSD. Horses are much better suited for mobility assistance. Miniature horse will be approximately 35 years old. So that's about the life-span of two to three service dogs. Generally, when we hear the words service animal or service dog, those are specifically trained animals. The presence of that animal is soothing and comforting. Reporter: You may have noticed flying comfort animals have skyrocketed in recent years. United saw a 77% increase from 2016 to 2017. And delta has seen its numbers double in the recent past. Most of these emotional support animals are accepted. One woman was banned when she tried to get her peacock on the plane. People are always trying to get their dog on an airplane. You know it's just a matter of time before someone brings a horse on a plane. Unfortunately, I think the influx of all kinds of animals on planes and public transportation in general has possibly swung the pendulum a little bit too far. Reporter: In upstate new York, a different kind of emotional support animal is providing moo-ving experiences. Meet Bella and Bonnie, the comfort cows. Hey, Bella! Bella! It's like calling your dogs. Hi, Bella. Reporter: Suzanne and Rudy own and operate mountain horse farm. The guests come here for one specific service that's generating a lot of buzz. Cow cuddling. It naturally relaxes you. A lot of people are looking for mindfulness, ways to calm down their head. When you're with a large animal like that, they command your presence, are you right there. And that creates a natural
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