Prominent Brooklyn artist ruffled feathers at Newark Liberty International Airport this weekend when she attempted to board a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles with her emotional support animal – a peacock rescue worker named Dexter.
Travel blog Live and fly first reported the bizarre scene that unfolded at the airport on Sunday, and the travel talk show on Jet set later shared photos of the passenger and her feathered friend perched on her luggage cart.
The passenger, identified by DailyMail.com on Tuesday as the critically acclaimed Bushwick photographer and performance artist Ventiko, reportedly offered to pay for a second seat to accommodate Dexter, but stressed that she had the right to bring him on board as an emotional support animal, according to the travel blog.
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Poultry Game: This is about Dexter the Peacock, whose owner, an artist from Brooklyn, attempted to take him aboard a United Airlines flight as an emotional support animal but was refused
Ground transportation: The peacock’s owner, who calls herself Ventiko, then posted this selfie on the bird’s Instagram page, posing with her family and Dexter in Indiana
Creative: Ventiko, who adopted Dexter in late 2014 or early 2015, is a leading photographer and artist living in Bushwick, Brooklyn
The airline company refused his request to bring the big bird on board the flight.
A spokeswoman for the airline told DailyMail.com that the traveler had been told several times in advance that she would not be able to accompany the peacock on the plane.
“This animal did not follow the guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size,” Andrea Hiller said in a statement.
“We explained this to the customer three times before he arrived at the airport.
Hiller went on to say that United require customers wishing to travel with an emotional support animal to provide documentation from a medical professional and at least 48 hours’ notice.
“In our effort to better balance the protection of our employees and customers while accommodating passengers with disabilities, we are reviewing our existing policy and plan to share more soon,” she added.
According to the US Department of Transportation’s policy on “ unusual service animals, ” they should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and airlines are advised to consider size, weight, state restrictions. and foreign country of each animal, and whether or not the animal would pose a direct threat or cause a disruption on a flight.
In the name of art: Ventiko told a newspaper in 2015 that she bought Dexter and a peahen on Craigslist to use in her art installation in Miami
Feathered Friend: After Dexter lost his mate, Ventiko adopted him. She said there was an instant connection between her and the peacock
Ventiko referred to the incident in a message posted by Dexter on Sunday. Instagram page, which has 825 followers, writing from the bird’s perspective: “I spent 6 hours trying to catch my flight to Los Angeles. Tomorrow my human friends will take me across the country!
On Monday, she was in Indianapolis to visit her family, who posed for a selfie with her and Dexter.
In a previous post, which included a short video of Dexter grooming her feathers, Ventiko wrote that her bird was allowed to travel to Los Angeles with her to “make art.”
DailyMail.com reached out to Ventiko on Tuesday for comment and was awaiting a response.
According to a 2015 profile of Ventiko published in the Bushwick Daily, she bought Dexter and a peacock named Etta via Craigslist in December 2014 for $ 200 because she wanted to incorporate live birds into her art installation at Select Air Fair in Miami.
She told the newspaper that she and Dexter bonded straight away – “he gave me kisses and put his head in my mouth” – but at the end of the art show she handed them over. two birds to another artist, who lived in Florida.
Dexter and Etta mated and had chicks, but sometime later the mother and baby birds were gone and Dexter became aggressive.
After learning that the peacock’s new owner was making it live in a garage, an indignant Ventiko said she “ had to step in ” and ended up adopting him.
Avant-garde: Ventiko (left and right) is a critically acclaimed artist whose works in various media have been exhibited around the world
The vibrantly hued bird currently lives with the artist and her two cats in Bushwick, where she can often be seen walking Dexter on a leash.
Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines rolled out a new set of rules requiring owners of service and support animals to provide more information before their animal could fly in the passenger cabin, including the assurance that it is trained to behave.
The airline said complaints of animals biting, urinating or defecating on planes had nearly doubled since 2016.
Starting March 1, Delta will require owners to show proof of their pet’s health or vaccinations at least 48 hours before a flight. ”
Owners of psychiatric service animals and those used for emotional support will be required to sign a declaration that their animal can behave.
A gap has grown between people with disabilities who rely on trained service animals, typically dogs, and passengers with support or comfort animals.
Although exact figures are not available, airline workers say dogs and cats are the most common animals on planes, but pigs, snakes and turkeys have also been seen.
Federal regulators interpreted a 1986 travel access law to allow support animals in airplane cabins and in apartment buildings that do not accept animals. This has created a cottage industry of online businesses that help people turn their pets into emotional support animals.
Airlines must allow support animals in the cabin, although they may require owners to present a letter from a doctor or other healthcare provider who can ensure the human traveler is helped by having the animal there.
The transportation department, aided by an advisory committee of airline and passenger advocates, considered tightening definitions of service and comfort animals, but missed its own deadline last year.
Airlines also complain that they have no way of verifying that doctors who approve comfort animals are qualified to decide if someone needs emotional support.
American Airlines and United Airlines have said they are reviewing their animal policies. The two said they have seen a significant increase in the number of emotional support animals since 2016.