Restrictions Set To Take Impact For Service Animals On Planes

The U.S. Department of Transportation sets new regulations for service animals on airplanes. (Josie Lepe / Bay Area News Group / TNS)

Federal regulators are developing a number of new regulations to limit service animals traveling on airplanes to ensure that the animals really help people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that it is finalizing a rule that only dogs trained to assist people with disabilities will be considered service animals under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Animals with emotional support are generally no longer considered service animals for aircraft flights, but psychiatric service animals are.

Advertisement – Read below

Airlines may require passengers traveling with service animals to fill out a form from the transportation department that “attests to the animal’s education and good behavior and attests to the animal’s health”.

Service dogs cannot be banned for their breed alone, but airlines can refuse animals that display aggressive behavior or pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others.

In addition, according to the new regulations, airlines can require that service animals are buckled up, leashed or tied up, that they fit in the footwell of the handler and that airlines can limit each passenger with a disability to two service animals. Those who travel with service animals must be able to check in for their flight online instead of having to physically check in at the airport.

The rules, first proposed earlier this year, came after an increase in the number of animals brought into planes created problems and airlines with only vague federal parameters began to set their own standards.

For example, Delta Air Lines cited problems with urination, bowel movements, biting and other aggression that led the company to adopt a new policy in 2018. The airline said customers were trying to bring comfort turkeys that acted as sugar gliders, snakes, gliding spiders and other animals on their planes.

Transportation said requests to bring unusual animals on board “undermined public confidence in legitimate service animals,” and the agency said the growing number of people mistakenly portraying their pets as service animals as well as malpractice of animals with emotional support who made changes necessary.

Airlines for America, representing US airlines, welcomed the regulations.

“The final rules of the DOT will enable qualified individuals with a disability who must travel with a service animal to have a smoother and safer travel experience, but will also prevent fraud and abuse related to service animals, which are so widespread as to endanger their health and safety in the cabin was an unacceptable and unsustainable burden on airlines and created a negative stigma on legitimate service animals, ”said Nicholas E. Calio, Group President and CEO.

Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, however, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the regulations, adding that they “will only serve to exacerbate existing inequalities for people with disabilities who travel by air.”

“This new rule is sure to undermine the rights of people with disabilities and instead serve almost exclusively the interests of the aviation industry,” he said.

The transportation department’s suggestion drew more than 15,000 comments. The new regulation comes into force 30 days after its appearance in the federal register.

Comments are closed.