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Chicago politician wants to clip 'fake' service animals' wings on airplanes

by Corky Siemaszko /
Image: airplane service dog
A service dog strolls through the isle on United Airlines plane at Newark Airport on April 1, 2017.Julio Cortez / AP file

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A powerful Chicago politician is trying to ground "fake" service animals.

Alderman Edward Burke introduced an ordinance Wednesday that would ban all such animals from the city’s two main airports — O’Hare and Midway — unless their owners can prove they are legit.

Image: airplane service dog
A service dog strolls through the isle on United Airlines plane at Newark Airport on April 1, 2017.Julio Cortez / AP file

“While the intention of this ordinance is to ensure that passengers who need to be accompanied by service or emotional support animals in Chicago can do so, it is also important to put in place a set of rules that screen out any animals which do not serve a legitimate or officially recognized purpose,” said Burke, a Democrat.

Related: Growls are growing over Delta’s new rules for flying with service animals

Under Burke’s proposed measure — titled "Rules Proposed to Ground 'Fake' Comfort Animals at Chicago Airports" — service animal owners would have to provide the Chicago Department of Aviation with documentation "not only from a veterinarian, but also from a licensed medical or mental health professional” proving that their creature's comfort is medically necessary.

And they would have to do so “48 hours in advance of a trip,” Burke’s statement said.

Also, owners would have to show evidence the animals have been vaccinated “within one year of travel time.”

Violators face some ruff love — eviction from the airports and fines of up to $250. And Burke’s ordinance “would not apply to trained police dogs or apply to canines under the control of sworn peace officers.”

Related: Emotional support peacock denied flight by United Airlines

“It’s just been introduced and we expect to have a hearing on it in the near future,” Burke spokesman Donal Quinlan told NBC News.

And what Burke says often goes in Chicago, where he has wielded power from his ward on the southwest side since 1969.

Related: Hamster flushed down toilet after college student’s pet denied flight on Spirit Airlines

In his announcement, Burke noted that his proposal comes after United Airlines barred a woman from bringing her emotional support peacock on a flight last month out of Newark Liberty International Airport.

Delta Airlines, Burke also noted, has announced it would revise “guidelines after passengers throughout the industry have attempted to fly with turkeys, gliding possums, snakes and spiders under the pretense of being a service or support animal.”

Edward Burke
Chicago Alderman Edward Burke speaks at a city council meeting in 2016.M. Spencer Green / AP file

In fact, Burke’s proposal appears to be a duplicate of the new rules that go into effect on all Delta flights starting Thursday.

The Department of Transportation has guidelines for air travel with service animals that allow airlines to exclude animals if they are too large or pose a threat to the flight crew or passengers.

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