The Department of Transportation (DOT) will carry on implementing policies demanding that airlines let passengers travel with dogs, cats, and miniature horses as emotional support animals. The DOT also maintained that airlines can’t restrict particular breeds being used as emotional support animals, such as pit bulls.
Yesterday, the DOT released its “Final Statement of Enforcement Policies Regarding Service Animals on Flights” bringing to a conclusion a public procedure it began in May of last year, after several airlines were unhappy about passengers who were exploiting the regulations and avoiding pet carrier fees by untruthfully declaring their pets as emotional support animals.
Delta and Airlines for America (A4A) have lobbied the Department of Transportation to embrace the Department of Justice description that says a service animal is a dog that is taught to execute an action for someone with a disability. This definition doesn’t include emotional support animals, cats, or any other species.
But the DOT concluded that airlines must allow travellers to fly with one dog, cat, or even a miniature horse for emotional support if need be, and the prohibiting of certain breeds is unacceptable under its service animal policy.
Adequate documentation is required
However, the DOT concurred with a Delta regulation which bans emotional support animals younger than four months old. Additionally, the airline would be well within their rights to require users of any kind of service animal to produce the appropriate documentation regarding the service animal’s vaccination, training, or behavior.
“The availability of fraudulent credentials online has enabled people who are not truly in need of animal assistance to abuse the rules and evade airline policies regarding animals in the cabin,” stated the A4A. “With over a million passengers bringing [emotional support animals] on flights last year, airlines and airports saw a sharp increase in incidents such as biting and mauling by untrained animals. The DOT’s guidance is an important step toward addressing this growing problem and ensuring a safer and healthier travel experience for all.”