Airlines no longer required to treat emotional support animals as service animals
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Wednesday, the United States Department of Transportation issued a final ruling regarding service animals on airplanes, determining that airlines are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets instead.
The DOT says this final rule is intended to ensure that the air transportation system is safe to the public and accessible to individuals with disabilities who need service animal assistance.
The ruling stems from rising numbers of complaints about service animals from passengers and airlines. It also comes from the “inconsistent definitions among federal agencies of what constitutes a ‘service animal’ and fraudulence among people claiming an EAS animal,” the final ruling document reads.
“A service animal is defined as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric intellectual, or other mental disability,” the ruling reads.
Under the new DOT ruling, airlines can also require that service dogs must be leashed at all times, and have the ability to bar dogs that show aggressive behavior. Additionally, passengers traveling with a service dog can now be required to fill out airline forms about the dog’s training, behavior and health.
The ruling will go into effect 30 days after being published in the Federal Register.
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