Emotional support animals on flights may be restricted to only dogs as U.S. Department of Transportation seeks changes

The U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking comment from the public on amending rules for service animals.

The DOT said it’s notice to change the rules is intended to ensure a safe and accessible air transportation system. It addresses concerns raised by people with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants and airports regarding service animals on aircrafts.

The department said while it recognizes the integral role that service animals play in the lives of individuals with disabilities and wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue to fly with their pets on aircrafts.  It also said the changes are looking to reduce the likelihood that “passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals.”

The ministry says it is looking to propose restrictions that only a service animal that is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability be allowed to be on flights. Other animals that are now classified as emotional support animals won’t be allowed.

It is also looking to allow a “psychiatric service animal to be a service animal and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals. The DOT also wants airlines to require passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to check-in at the airport one hour prior to the travel time required for the general public to ensure sufficient time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal.

Other changes will limit the number of service dogs to two service animals for a single passenger and require the dog to be harnessed, leashed, tethered, or otherwise under the control of its handler.

Over the last few years, there have been frequent news made of travelers on flights with their emotional support animals. Those include:

 

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