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Because of numerous cases involving untrained animals in recent years, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed to limit the number of emotional support animals (ESAs) allowed on flights.
The current law permits disabled passengers to travel with service animals, but under DOT’s new proposal, airlines will no longer be required to allow ESAs on flights. ESAs, which include dogs and other animals, are meant to relieve a person’s stress or anxiety. The reform intends to limit the classification of a service animal to a trained dog. This change will negate the current policy that allows other kinds of animals.
Legally, ESAs are prescribed by licensed mental health professionals to people with emotional disabilities. However, Airlines for America (A4A) pointed out that there are people who abuse the ESA policy by using fraudulent certificates. These people declare pets as ESAs to get away with not paying pet carriage fees. This practice costs the airline industry millions in losses.
Fraudulent certificates have also led to increased incidents of untrained animals causing trouble to airline passengers and crew members. The petition cited that travelers have tried to bring in various animals, including ducks, turkeys, pigs, iguanas, and even a peacock as ESAs.
The new proposal includes new check-in policies for passengers who will travel with service animals. The policies will require the passengers to be at the airport at least an hour earlier. The CEO of A4A approved the proposal, saying that it will help guarantee the safety of everyone in the cabin. Before the implementation of the new rule, A4A will give the public 60 days to share thoughts about it.