News for erfs, animal lovers.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced that animals with emotional support will no longer be considered service animals in flight, updating its final rule on the controversial travel topic.
DOT shared the news in a news release on Wednesday, explaining that the revision of the Air Carriers Access Act was followed by more than 15,000 comments on the proposal, which was first presented in January.
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“The final rule announced today addresses concerns raised by people with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports, other air transport stakeholders and other citizens regarding service animals on airplanes,” the agency said.
The DOT will now define a service animal as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.”
While the DOT “no longer considers the emotionally supportive animal to be a service animal,” the department will require airlines to “treat psychiatric service animals in the same way as other service animals.”
Moving forward, the department allows airlines to require DOT-approved forms confirming the health, behavior and training of the service animal before travel, and allows carriers to limit the number of service animals traveling with one passenger to two.
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In addition, the DOT gave airlines the right to require a service animal to fit in the space of the pilot-in-command and to order the animal to be harnessed, tethered or tethered at all times on the aircraft and at the airport during a travel trip.
DOT also supports the carrier’s agency to refuse transport to service animals, acting aggressively, while prohibiting airlines from refusing to transport a service animal based on the breed.
The topic of emotional support and service animals on planes was the main topic of travel news in 2018 after a peacock of emotional support named Dexter and its owner were refused boarding a United Airlines flight. Months later, a French bulldog died in the high skies after being accidentally placed in the top basket by a United Airlines flight attendant during the trip. From there, emotional cats, squirrels and hamsters continue to make headlines and provoke debate.
Since then, various carriers have tightened the leash on their respective rules regarding the transportation of both emotional support and service animals; the latest DOT update will change the policy game.
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A spokesman for the department did not immediately return Fox News’s request for comment.