DOJ Clarifies Service Animal Regulations

New Service Animal FAQs from the DOJ

Although some news sources have reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently “revised” their regulation on service animals, they have instead clarified regulations that have been on the books for many years. Early this week the DOJ released “Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA” a user-friendly technical assistance document that answers many commonly asked questions about service animals. The publication stems from questions posed to the DOJ and provides guidance on the ADA’s service animal provisions. Continue reading

The Straight Poop About Flying With Your Service Animal

Lately there’s been a flurry of articles, blog posts and Facebook comments about people flying with “questionable” service animals. What exactly do I mean by questionable? In this case, I believe it’s anybody who has a service animal that doesn’t have a visible disability. Continue reading

DOT Seeks Input on Airport Service Animal Relief Areas

The DOT has been a busy little agency of late, with two sets of proposed access regulations released within days of each other. The first set, which was issued late last month involves accessible airline websites and airport kiosks; while the most recent set addresses airport service animal relief areas. Continue reading

Flying With a Service Animal — Your Rights and Obligations Under the Air Carrier Access Act

I get a lot of questions about flying with service animals, so I thought I’d kick off International Assistance Dog Week with some useful information about the subject. Continue reading

New ADAAG Nixes Snakes, Monkeys and Emotional Support Animals

As predicted, the revised ADAAG was released yesterday, on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And although the new regulations are full of new scoping requirements and a number of Title II revisions, they also include several Title III revisions, which will affect travelers. In particular, the Department of Justice (DOJ) limited the definition of a service animal to exclude all but traditional service dogs. An exception was also included for properly trained miniature horses; however the new regulations totally disallow exotic animals and those animals that solely provide emotional support.

It’s seen by many as a step forward, as in some cases the ambiguity in the previous regulations left a lot of latitude fore abuse. Additionally, it gives folks in the hospitality industry a black-and-white definition of what does (and what doesn?t) qualify as a service animal. Here’s what the new law has to say.

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Artistic License or Poor Research?

Every now and then I read an article that just leaves me scratching my head. Such is the case with this piece by Reannon Muth, which recently appeared on the Matador Network. From a quick glance at the title it appears to be a positive take on emotional support animals flying on commercial air carriers; but once you get to the meat of it, you quickly learn that’s not the slant. In fact, this airline-employee-turned-travel-writer is pretty vocal about people passing off their pampered pooches as emotional support animals, while the airlines basically turn a blind eye to it all. It’s not that I disagree with her stand about emotional support animals; it’s just that her facts are a little off kilter.

Or perhaps it’s just artistic license — you know embellishing the facts a bit just to make your article more interesting. Either way, it does a great dis-service to the traveling public, so to prevent the dissemination of misinformation, here’s the straight poop on what the law has to say about flying with emotional support animals. Continue reading

Buyer Beware: Steer Clear of Service Animal Card Mills

By now I’m sure you’ve all read about Daniel Green, the man with the service snake. Apparently the snake senses when Daniel is about to have a seizure and alerts him by hugging him. My colleague, Nancy Bartley of the Seattle Times, wrote an excellent article about the whole situation. And yes, she had permission to quote me.

Suffice it to say that walking around with a snake draped around your neck can be problematic. But aside from the debate of whether or not the snake is a legitimate service animal, I took something else away from this whole issue — a little consumer alert for my readers. Continue reading

The DOJ on Exotic Service Animals

I’ve addressed the issue of companion/comfort animals a few times in this blog; mostly when they happen to come up in the news. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Basically it’s an animal that serves as a companion, one that doesn’t perform a specific task, like turning on the lights or picking stuff up off the ground. In most cases, the person in question has some kind of a mental disability, and they use the animal for comfort and reassurance. Continue reading

Is This Horse Really a Service Animal?

At this point in my life, I’m pretty used to getting e-mails and reading articles about what I’m going to call “non-traditional” service animals; which I loosely define as anything beyond a dog. And yes I know that both monkeys and miniature horses are legally recognized as service animals, but they are still a little beyond the norm. And I still get letters about them. Continue reading