DOT’s Proposed ACAA Regulations Treats Emotional Support Animals as Pets

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced that it is seeking public comments on proposed amendments to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulations on service animals.

Specifically it would bring the definition of a service animal in the ACAA in line with that in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specifically not recognize emotional support animals as service animals. The new regulation would also tighten up parts of the ACAA that pertain to service animals.

If adopted the proposed regulations would:

  • Define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
  • No longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal.
  • Require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals.
  • Allow airlines to require passengers to complete forms attesting to a service animal’s good behavior, certifying the service animal’s good health, and if taking a flight longer than eight hours attesting that the service animal has the ability to either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner.
  • Allow airlines to require passengers who are traveling with a service animal to check-in at the airport one hour prior to the travel time required for the general public, to ensure sufficient time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal.
  • Require airlines to promptly check-in passengers with service animals who are subject to an advanced check-in process.
  • Allow airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger to two service animals.
  • Allow airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft.
  • Continue to allow airlines to require service animals to be harnessed, leashed, tethered, or otherwise under the control of its handler.
  • Continue to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
  • Continue to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely on the basis of breed.

The proposed rule can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/notice-proposed-rulemaking-traveling-air-service-animals

You can make a public comment on the proposed rule at https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=DOT-OST-2018-0068-4724

After the comments are reviewed the DOT will issue a final rule. Stay tuned.

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