Emotional Support Animals Might Get Banned from Planes


Lindsey Marshburn, Reporter


Air travel could be going to the dogs. The Transportation Department has proposed rules that would rein in the menagerie of service animals that passengers have been carrying on flights under the guise of the animals’ being service pets.   The new rules would allow only specially trained dogs to fly under the “service animal” designstion. If the rule takes effect, the Transportation Department would be cracking down on passengers who use the loophole to travel with pets, effectively grounding most minature horses, turkeys, cats, and other critters that travelers have taken aboard as service animals. An approved service animal would be defined as a “dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” Sara Nelson, president of the 50,000- member Association of Flight Attendants- CWA, hailed the proposal. She said flight attendants have been injured by pets that have been let “loose in the cabin.” Nelson stressed that under proposal rules, passengers could still travel with animals, but only “under their preferred carrier’s pet program.” In recent years, the Transportation Department has seen the number of passenger complaints about unruly service animals on domestic and foreign airlines skyrocket from 719 in 2013 to 3,065 in 2018. Under the proposed new rules, airlines would no longer be required to accomodate travelers who want to fly with emotional cats, pigs, and rabbits. The public has 60 days to to weigh in with comments, the Transportation Department said. This will be the final decision.