The Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing new rules for flying with assistance animals. Some of these rules include:
- Size restrictions– Airlines may require the animal to be able to fit within its handler’s footspace on the plane. This excludes many of the larger breeds of service dogs that are common for many different disabilities.
- Redefining what a service animal is– The new definition of a service animal would only include dogs, leaving miniature horses out of the picture. Miniature horses are valued by many people with disabilities for their longer life spans, strength and size, and as an alternative to those with severe allergies to dogs.
- Excluding emotional support animals (ESAs)– Airlines would no longer consider ESAs as service animals. Although ESAs do not receive the training that service animals do, they provide significant therapeutic benefits to people with disabilities, especially those with mental health impairments.
- More documentation– Airlines would be allowed to require documentation that attests to the animal’s good behavior, certifies the animal’s good health, and confirms the animal’s ability to not relieve itself on a long flight.
These proposed rules put the convenience of the airline industry before the rights of passengers with disabilities and are an overreaction to a smaller group of people wrongly taking advantage of the rules that help thousands of people with disabilities.
You can help change the conversation about assistance animals.
Tell us about your service animal or ESA here and help spread awareness. You can submit your story anonymously, or choose to share your story on our website and social media pages. We will contact you before posting your story anywhere.
You can also submit a comment on these proposed rules to the DOT here.
If you have any questions or need assistance filling out the survey, give us a call at 919-856-2195, or email us at Communications@disabilityrightsnc.org.