Published on Thursday, January 23, 2020

New DOT rules may ban emotional support animals

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to completely rewrite rules governing the carriage of emotional support animals.

It plans to change the definition of a service animal as the 'existing structure has a very broad definition' open to abuse.

It will no longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal, and any animal used for a passenger's emotional wellbeing must undergo the same training as conventional service animals.

Due to the training requirements needed, it effectively bans all animals except for dogs.

Airlines will be able to demand special DOT documentation is filled in confirming the animal's training, health and ability to fly safely.

False documentation could become a federal crime.

There will be a limit on two service animals per traveler and airlines will be required to promptly check-in passengers with service animals who are required to be at the airport an extra hour earlier.

"Airlines want all passengers and crew to have a safe and comfortable flying experience, and we are confident the proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone," said Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America.

Flight attendants have been especially vocal about the huge increase in emotional support animals and the fraudulent use of medical documentation to avoid paying animal cargo fees.

"The days of Noah's Ark in the air are hopefully coming to an end," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.

The DOT will open a 60-day public consultation period seeking comments on the proposed changes.

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  • Animals at Hotels

    As an innkeeper we have had the problem of guests wanting to bring pets disguised as support animals. Luckily our provincial government only requires us to accept registered sevice/guide dogs and handlers that have a government issued ID. The rules also apply to foreign visitors to BC.

    By Wally Martin, Thursday, January 23, 2020

  • Finally!

    This is the first and positive rewrite. I know many who have literally abused this privilege. In addition, I'd like the DOT to also take the issue of human beings who are allergic to animals who have taken the "backseat" to "animals" first on flights. Suggestion: There should be designated flights and awareness of said flights when animals are onboard. I know instances where passengers who are allergic are asked to move their seats and/or removed from the flight and not the animals. This is "inhumane".

    By Gerry Fred, Thursday, January 23, 2020

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