The U.S. Wants to Ban All Service Animals From Planes (Except Dogs)

Proposed new rules that would restrict emotional support pets

Emotional support dog
Proposed new rules would curtail emotional support animals on planes
Holly Hildreth / Getty Images

The days of emotional miniature horses might be over.

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to make it harder to fly with an emotional support animal. New rules would ban all support pets except dogs and would permit airlines to deny passengers the right to have animals accompany them. It would also airlines to require DOT-certified forms attesting to the animal’s good behavior and health (and its ability to not relieve itself during long flights), limit the number of animals to two per person and fit within the handler’s foot space on the aircraft.

As well, emotional support animals would not longer be considered service animals.

Right now the agency is seeking public comment on the proposed amendments to the Air Carrier Access Act; the public has 60 days to respond to the proposed changes.

As the agency noted in a statement: “The Department recognizes the integral role that service animals play in the lives of many individuals with disabilities and wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also reducing the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals.”

In an interview with the New York Times, National Disability Right Network executive director Curt Decker countered that the new rules were a consequence of airlines shrinking passenger space. “This [proposed rule] is entirely due to airlines reducing space between rows and squeezing passengers into smaller and smaller seats, so small that there is now no longer room for a service animal on some planes,” he said. “Cramped space on planes is a nuisance to all travelers, but it now prevents some people from traveling at all.”

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