Dexter the Therapeutic Peacock Goes Viral


People look to all sorts of things for emotional support. Some wear crosses; many have service dogs, while others have small ponies to help ease their anxiety. A photographer from New York has added another animal to the list, her beloved peacock. She takes her colorful stress-reliever wherever she goes. More recently, Venitko’s attempt to take Dexter the therapeutic peacock on a flight from New Jersey to California resulted in the bird’s viral status.

United Airlines employees refused to allow Dexter to board the flight, despite the bird being an official ticket holder. Although Ventiko argued the necessity of Dexter accompanying her, she quickly learned that therapy animals are not the same thing as service animals, and companies do not have to accommodate them. When speaking of the incident, a spokesperson for United said:

This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customer on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.

There are no governing rules that mandate emotional support animals any clearance on airlines. Emotional support or comfort animals, as well as therapy dogs, are not the same as service animals, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A service animal one that is trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities. Under Title II and III of the ADA, service animals are limited to dogs. However, reasonable adjustments must be included in policies to allow individuals with disabilities to use miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.

The exotic bird may not have gained official emotional support status, but Dexter the peacock has gone viral and even has its own Instagram account. One photo displayed the exotic bird on top of a luggage cart with the following caption included:

Spent 6 hours trying to get on my flight to LA (after following all required protocol). Tomorrow my human friends are going to drive me cross country!

In today’s society, it is common for one to board an aircraft only to find that a fellow passenger has feathers. While it peacockis still uncommon to see turkeys and other animals on planes, more people are turning to animals to help them cope with problems and stressful situations. Such is the case with Ventiko, she takes Dexter, her peacock therapy bird almost everywhere she goes. Dexter helps the photographer with stress and anxiety.

The news quickly surged on social media causing Dexter the therapeutic peacock to go viral. Twitter users responded with mixed opinions. Some deemed it comedic while others displayed sympathy for the peacock’s owner. Here are a few of these sentiments:

Am also a huge fan of Dexter the peacock and have been since before the hype. Dexter the peacock lives in Brooklyn; one day we will be friends. @Kim Boekbinder

She’s an artist and she named her peacock “Dexter”? WTF? Everybody who has so much as taken Art Appreciation/101 knows that “Dexter” is a name for service ducks, not peacocks. @JackSledge007

HILARIOUS: Dexter the peacock was just trying to go on vacation. He had a ticket and everything. @WXTX54

A therapy-animal trend grips the United States. Many have reportedly learned how to deal with their mental health issues better with the presence of an animal. When flying, however, the accompaniment of emotional support animals as travel friends can be an annoyance to other passengers.

United Airlines employees stopped Dexter’s owner from boarding a flight with her emotional support animal in tow. With its massive tail and iridescent colors, this bird has long fascinated its human observers. Although Dexter the therapeutic peacock did not win the support of United Airlines, it has since taken flight and gone viral on social media.

By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


Reason: You Are Not Entitled to Bring an Emotional Support Peacock on Your Flight
ADA National Network: Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals
Washington Post: Therapy animals are everywhere. Proof that they help is not.

Image Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of Instagram: Dexter the Peacock
Inline Image Courtesy of Juan Bendana’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Peter Miller’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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