US Government to Set Restrictions on Emotional Support Animals

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. relieve / rɪˈliv / (v) – to ease or reduce

    Ice packs can help relieve muscle cramps.

  2. reform / rɪˈfɔrm / (n) – an improvement or revision of something

    People are calling for tax reforms because current policies are too strict.

  3. negate / nɪˈgeɪt / (v) – to make something ineffective or invalid

    The lack of evidence negated the customer’s complaint.

  4. get away with (something) / gɛt əˈweɪ wɪð / (idiom) – to avoid punishment for something

    The school will implement stricter exam policies because a lot of students still get away with cheating.

  5. various / ˈvɛər i əs / (adj) – having different kinds

    The music festival featured various bands and artists.


Read the text below.

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.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the DOT’s proposal to limit emotional support animals to dogs? Why or why not?
• Do you think there should be a penalty for people who fake ESA certificates? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What things should people traveling with animals do to avoid any trouble? Discuss.
• What should airlines do for people who get inconvenienced by animals traveling with their co-passengers? Discuss.