Airlines are, at long last, beginning to say No to animals that shouldn’t be on airplanes. Delta announced that they will no longer allow therapy animals on flights that are untrained, and United just refused to allow a passenger to bring a therapy peacock onto a plane. Below is a photo taken at Newark Airport at the United check-in. How would you like to find this bird sitting on the seat next to you? I hope this is the beginning of bringing some sanity to this issue! People have been going on airplanes with therapy and emotional support pigs, turkeys, ducks, parrots, snakes, and giant lizards. It’s easy at laugh at these stories, but would you laugh if you were living in an apartment house and found a peacock like this one in the hallway standing between you and the door to your apartment – and the peacock was in a bad mood. Would you think that was funny? I know a landlord in Santa Rosa who had to allow one of his tenants to keep a 100 pound therapy Burmese python in his apartment – until it escaped. A snake like that can swallow a whole pig or an alligator or a child. An animal like that shouldn’t be in an apartment anywhere!

In 2015, a woman casually walked into a McDonald’s in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin with a kangaroo. The customers panicked, fled the restaurant, and called the police. The police arrived, but they couldn’t do anything. They couldn’t arrest the woman or forcibly remove the kangaroo from the restaurant  because it was a therapy kangaroo. The woman had a note from her doctor saying that she needed it. The woman owns 4 other therapy kangaroos in addition to the one took she took to McDonald’s. She says she takes her kangaroos everywhere with her – to shopping malls, movie theaters, and to church. As I say, I hope that what United and Delta are doing will start to bring some sanity to this issue, and federal regulations on therapy animals are truly insane.


In June, 2016; 39 year old Marlin Jackson arrived at his row on a Delta flight from Atlanta to San Diego. The middle seat was occupied by a man with a large emotional support dog on his lap. Mr. Jackson squeezed past them to get to his window seat. As he did so, the Labrador mix lunged at his face. The attack lasted about 30 seconds, and left Mr Jackson with facial wounds that required 28 stitches. His scars are still visible. This was not an isolated case. Delta said that this was just one of thousands of such incidents. As a result, Delta, the nation’s largest airline, has tightened its rules for passengers flying with service, comfort, and emotional support animals. In announcing the changes, Delta said it flew 250,000 animals in these categories last year, up 150 percent from 2015, while incidents such as biting and defecating on the plane have nearly doubled just since 2016. I have a photo of Mr. Jackson’s face, but take my word for it, you don’t want to see it. As I said, the government’s policy on therapy animals is just plain madness.


Take a look at the “Have you seen my mongoose?” poster below. It says that this mongoose is a registered ’emotional support animal’ with the city of San Francisco, but what sort of disability do you suppose this person has? Perhaps it is a fear of cobras. All landlords in the United States are required by the federal government to allow tenants to keep emotional support animals in their apartments. Landlords cannot refuse to allow a tenant to keep an emotional support, comfort, or therapy animal, no matter what the animal is. Personally, I think this policy is madness. Some tenants now have in their apartments – and against the landlord’s and the neighbor’s wishes – emotional support pigs, kangaroos (Yes – kangaroos!), horses, monkeys, pit bulls, mountain lions, alligators, venomous lizards, and tarantulas. I think that sooner or later, someone is going to be killed by one of these animals! Its just a matter of time. I have wondered what I would do or could do if a tenant of mine told me that he had a 200 pound ‘therapy python’ in his apartment. I’m not sure that I could do anything. I am not even sure that I could legally warn the other tenants or neighbors about just an obviously dangerous snake. Simply warning the neighbors might be considered discrimination. As I said, I think this policy is madness. Any in case you were wondering, Yes, it is legal in California to keep a 200 pound python in your home. In fact, there is a store here in Berkeley that sells them.

Do Disabled People Really Need Kangaroos?

In February, 2015; a woman walked into a McDonald’s restaurant in the town of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin with her kangaroo and ordered a meal. Other customers in the restaurant were shocked and called the police. When the police arrived, the woman told them that the kangaroo was a ‘service animal’, and therefore, she had a legal right to bring the kangaroo into the restaurant with her. She said that she needed the kangaroo to provide her with emotional support while she was fighting cancer. Fortunately, the woman was cooperative and promised the police that she would not bring the kangaroo back with her the next time she went to McDonald’s. However, the woman has 4 other kangaroos at home, and it is not clear whether her promise applies to them as well. The city of Beaver Dam quickly passed a law limiting service animals to dogs and small horses, which complies with the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act.) However, the city could not limit what animals can be used as therapy or emotional support animals, so if the kangaroo is reclassified as a therapy animal, the woman could still bring it into the restaurant.

Something similar to this happened in 2012 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; where a woman had a kangaroo in her apartment. The landlord didn’t want a kangaroo in his building, but since it was a ‘therapy kangaroo’, there was nothing he could do about it. The woman eventually moved out voluntarily. She gave her kangaroo to an animal rescue ranch, which resolved the issue.

kangaroo2About Kangaroos. Let me make one thing clear about kangaroos: kangaroos are not domesticated animals. I mention this because in cartoons and children’s books, kangaroos are often depicted working as butlers, waiters, or prizefighters. In reality, kangaroos can do none of these things. Kangaroos cannot be trained to do useful work for human beings, like seeing eye dogs for the blind. Despite what you may have seen in cartoons, people in Australia do not employ kangaroos as household servants. Also, kangaroos cannot box, nor do they wear boxing gloves like they do in Warner Brothers cartoons. It is surprising how many people believe that kangaroos actually can box just because they have seen it in cartoons.
Burmese Pythons. I know a landlord who rented an apartment to a man with a ‘therapy Burmese python.’ The snake weighed over 100 pounds and could kill a grown man. The landlord was aware of how dangerous the snake was. The landlord didn’t want the rent his apartment to this man, but he did so anyway because he didn’t want to risk getting sued. Now in case you are wondering: ‘How dangerous are Burmese pythons?’, consider the case of Grant Williams. Grant Williams, age 19, bought a Burmese python at a pet store in New York City and took it home to his apartment in the Bronx. Five months later, another tenant in the building found Mr. Williams in the hallway dead, lying in a pool of his own blood, and with the snake still coiled around him.

Kitty Cat. Many years ago, a man applied to rent a house that I owned in Oakland. He told me that he had a cat named Kitty Cat. I had advertised that I would allow a cat. I asked the man some questions about his cat. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but whatever it was, it made me suspicious. I asked him if he had a photo of Kitty Cat with him. He said Yes. He opened his wallet, took out a photograph, and handed it to me, and that is how I found out that Kitty Cat was, in fact, a western mountain lion, also known as a cougar or a puma. I don’t know how big Kitty Cat was, but I recall that the guy told me that Kitty Cat ate 10 pounds of horsemeat a day, every day, so it must have been a pretty big cat. Technically, the man hadn’t lied to me. A mountain lion is a cat, and I did advertise that I would allow a cat in the house; nevertheless, I turned down his application anyway. Because the man said that the mountain lion was a ‘pet’, I could do that. If he had told me that he was disabled and that Kitty Cat was a ‘therapy mountain lion’, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know if could have legally refused to rent to him. The man had excellent credit and lots of money. He was an heir to a famous San Francisco coffee fortune. Many years later, in 2010, Berkeley police shot and killed a mountain lion in a parking lot near Chez Panisse. Since it is now illegal to own a mountain lion in California, the police think that someone was secretly keeping the mountain lion as a pet and that it escaped. The lion appeared to be well fed and in good health. I have wondered if that mountain lion might have been Kitty Cat, but I will never know.

What Is Reasonable? Under Federal law, landlords have to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for the needs of disabled tenants. That includes the right to keep therapy and emotional support animals. The problem is that there is no list of what animals qualify. ANY animal can be a therapy or emotional support animal. An emotional support animal can be a kangaroo, a pig, a chimpanzee, an alpaca, a horse, a falcon, or even an alligator. It can be anything. You know, ‘reasonable’ is a tricky word. Every rational businessman wants to be perceived as reasonable by his customers, but who gets to decide whether or not he is being reasonable? Suppose an applicant for an apartment shows a landlord a note from his psychiatrist that says that he needs a kangaroo for emotional support. Who gets to decide whether allowing that tenant to keep a kangaroo in his apartment is a reasonable accommodation, the landlord or the man with the kangaroo?

I have long believed that HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) should publish a list of what animals can be kept as therapy and emotional support animals. The list should be short and specific and take public health and safety into consideration. HUD has the power to do this. I believe that someday a landlord somewhere in the U.S. is going to rent an apartment to somebody with a therapy, companion, or emotional support animal that has no business being in an apartment, and that as a result, another tenant in the building or a neighbor will be killed. I think that is inevitable. When somebody is killed as a result of this irresponsible policy, HUD or Congress may finally change the rules. It’s too bad that someone may have to die first. This is a subject that I really feel very strongly about.

Do You Have A Legal Right To Keep A Kangaroo In Your Apartment?

Maybe. I’m not sure. In 2011, I covered a story about a woman in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma who was fighting her landlord’s efforts to evict her – and her kangaroo. The woman had an Australian red kangaroo in her apartment. She said she had a legal right to have a kangaroo in her apartment under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act.) She has a letter from a therapist who says that due to her depression, she needs a ‘therapy kangaroo.

After fighting her landlord and the city of Broken Arrow for several years, the kangaroo’s owner has finally thrown in the towel. In August, 2013; she turned over the kangaroo to an exotic animal park, The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, located about 60 miles south of Oklahoma City. To see photos of the ‘therapy kangaroo’, go to: Therapy Kangaroo.

Kangaroos and Twizzlers. This ‘therapy’ kangaroo’s name is Irwin. According to his owner, Irwin’s favorite food is strawberry flavored Twizzlers, which I think is appropriate considering that he is a red kangaroo. I doubt that kangaroos in the wild eat Twizzlers, but if they do, that might explain why red kangaroos are red. I don’t know enough about Australia or kangaroos to be sure about this. Apparently, Irwin isn’t the only kangaroo who eats Twizzlers. There are several videos on You Tube of kangaroos eating Twizzlers. Here is one of them. Kangaroo Eating A Twizzler. I know an executive at Hershey, the company that makes Twizzlers. I will ask him about this when I see him next week.

Can you imagine what it would be like to live directly underneath an apartment with a kangaroo in it? Boing! Boing! Boing! I wonder if this woman’s landlord was able to rent that apartment. I have never personally received a rental application from someone with a ‘therapy kangaroo‘, but I did once get an application from somebody with a ‘comfort pig.’ I have often wondered if there is a therapy animal that a landlord can refuse to allow in his building on the grounds that the animal is inherently too dangerous. Is there a point at which the safety of the other tenants in the building and the neighbors trumps the ADA? I have asked this question to a number of lawyers who specialize in disability law, including government lawyers, and none of them had an answer. Frankly, I am not sure what I would do if I got an application for an apartment from somebody with an obviously dangerous animal, like a ‘comfort rattlesnake’ or a ‘therapy grizzly bear.’ What would you do in that situation if you were the landlord?