DOT Updates Airline Guidance on Service and Emotional Support Animals

By Paul Riegler on 11 August 2019
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IMG_3666The Department of Transportation issued what it called a “final statement” concerning the transportation of service animals on commercial airlines.

The move allows airlines to ask travelers for documentation regarding the service animal’s training or behavior, as long as “it’s reasonable to believe the documentation would assist the airline in making a determination as to whether the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety or others” on the plane.

What airlines cannot do, the agency said, is ban specific breeds of dogs or limit the number of service animals on a flight.

The airline industry came out in favor of the decision.

“With over a million passengers bringing ESAs on flights last year, airlines and airports saw a sharp increase in incidents such as biting and mauling by untrained animals,” said Airlines for America, a trade association that represents major U.S. airlines.

Onboard incidents where passengers or cabin crew were injured have become increasingly common.  Two weeks ago, an emotional support dog bit an Envoy Air flight attendant on an American Airlines flight.  The crew member required five stitches.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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