A new rule now allows airlines in the United States to ban a wide range of emotional support animals from riding in the cabin. This follows news of controversy over emotional support animals that includes pigs, turtles, peacocks and more, which have been allowed to accompany owners over the past couple of years and have caused trouble mid-flights.
The Department of Transportation stated that only dogs are now accepted as service animals. They also clarify that the term “emotional support animal” is no longer considered the same as that of a “service animal.”
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According to the ruling, dogs must be “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability” in order to be considered a service animal. They must also be leashed, tethered or harnessed at all times on flight and must not show signs of aggressive behavior. All other animals must be checked into the cargo hold, most likely for a fee.
This revision was prompted by disruptions in flights caused by unusual species of animals that “eroded the public trust in legitimate service animals.” It will go in effect within 30 days and gives airlines the opportunity to choose what to do, allowing pets to board flights without paying a fee if they want to. Deciding on whether a pet is a service animal or not is a “contentious question, with strongly held views on all sides and with no perfect solution.”
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Animals on planes have long been a source of stress for airlines, but it seems like a strange time to make a decision that will upset so many possible travelers, especially since airlines have been experiencing a serious lack of business. In the meantime, no peacocks or hamsters allowed on board.