NANAIMO — Air Canada on Monday denied boarding to two Nanaimo city councillors, after they attempted to claim Councillor Tyler Brown as their emotional support companion.
Sheryl Armstrong and Erin Hemmens were both en route to Vancouver on City business, when they were stopped at the gate by Air Canada agents. The agents told them that humans can not be claimed as support animals.
“We were really shocked that they would question us,” said Councillor Hemmens. “Tyler is very useful to have nearby. He detects when either of us start to feel overwhelmed, and then he will nudge our leg and make an Internet meme for us.”
“Yes,” agreed Councillor Armstrong. “He’s obviously been very well trained.”
A spokesperson for Air Canada said the airline does not accept animals other than dogs as emotional support or psychiatric service animals.
In the U.S., rules around so-called “emotional support animals” are lax. But just today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would let airlines ban most “emotional support” animals and board only specially trained service dogs.
Nanaimo CAO Jake Rudolph said the City would be pursuing legal action against the airline. “This is actually the second time our Council members have been discriminated against in this month alone.” (Earlier this month, Mayor Krog was refused an extra seat to accommodate his internationally recognized biceps.)
Brown handily won election to Council last year, coming in fourth place with 14,935 votes cast.