Travel DOT seeks public comment about how to regulate animals flying with passengers

08:50  17 may  2018
08:50  17 may  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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The DOT noted this Final Rule also responds to public comments on a second NPRM initiative on accommodating passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Do not make assumptions about how a particular unusual animal is likely to behave based on past experience with other animals .

Today is the last day the DOT is hearing public comment on the issue. "There's a common misconception that if you put your pet in the cargo hold it will be treated like a passenger , but that's not what's playing out in reality," she said. These animals should "never fly , period," Theisen said.

a dog sitting in front of a mirror posing for the camera: A service dog strolls April 1, 2017, down the aisle of a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport while taking part in a training exercise, in Newark, N.J.© Julio Cortez, AP A service dog strolls April 1, 2017, down the aisle of a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport while taking part in a training exercise, in Newark, N.J.

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Department announced Wednesday it was seeking comment for drafting rules for dealing with animals flying with passengers on planes.

The proposal asks for comment for 45 days about questions such as:

♦Whether to treat psychiatric service animals the same as other service animals, such as for the blind and deaf.

♦How to distinguish emotional-support animals from other service animals.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has adopted general guidelines to allow passengers to fly with emotional support animals but has given airlines the 1 p.m.: This article was updated to include a comment from the Assn. of Flight Attendants. The article was originally published at 11:10 a.m.

♦Whether to require emotional-support animals to travel in containers, or with a harness or leash.

♦Potentially limiting the types of animals qualifying as emotional-support animals.

♦Potentially prohibiting airlines from requiring veterinary health forms or immunization records for service animals.

Because of the rulemaking, the department says it will focus enforcement on clear violations of current rules that could affect the largest number of passengers.

The request for comment comes after American, Delta and United airlines revised their policies in recent months to prohibit animals such as reptiles and birds as comfort animals traveling with passengers in the cabin.

The goal of the rulemaking is to ensure that individuals with disabilities can travel with animals they rely on for assistance, while also preventing fraud by travelers bringing along pets under the guise of service animals.

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October 11, 2016October 10, 2016 Christopher Elliott 92 Comments ANIMAL , BAN, EMOTIONAL No one knows exactly how many Americans fly with an emotional-support animal . The DOT , in its efforts to accommodate passengers with disabilities, created a bigger problem than it solved.

Travel. A woman with a life-threatening animal allergy was dragged off a flight — here's what you need to know about flying with pets. Carriers are not allowed to deny a passenger transportation if his or her service animal is denied.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines, urged the department to clarify the regulations for emotional-support animals quickly, to avoid interfering with legitimate service animals for veterans and others with disabilities.

"In recent years, there has been an exponential increase of people claiming the need for emotional support animals in the cabin,” Nelson said.“Flight attendants and passengers have been bitten, attacked, and inconvenienced by animals who are not properly trained to be in a confined public environment.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act established that trained service animals such as dogs or miniature horses could travel on flights. The department received 2,443 complaints from travelers with service animals on U.S. and foreign airlines in 2016, and another 2,499 last year.

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And it asked the public and airlines for comments on existing regulations that could be halted Airlines also want to eliminate a requirement that they inform passengers how to file complaints "Today, our focus is to continue to further ensure the comfort and safety of all animals that fly with us

As provided in the Department of Transportation ’s “Guidance Concerning Service Animals in Air animal to travel as an ESA, even if the animal is necessary for a passenger ’s emotional well-being. Ted Spokane, WA Ted discusses how The DOGtor helped him get his travel letter.

Passengers can also bring pets such as dogs or cats in containers that fit in seating area for a fee. Airlines set their own policies for the fee and the number of animals on a given flight.

But the Air Carrier Access Act opened the door to a broader range of emotional-support animals to fly in the cabin without a kennel, to comfort passengers with mental-health issues.

In recent years, the variety exploded to include monkeys, pigs and ducks as emotional-support animals, although airlines didn't have to accept reptiles, ferrets or rodents.

These comfort animals, which didn’t require specified training, sometimes upset other passengers. Airlines uniformly opposed recognition of emotional-support animals that weren't required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"The use of unusual species as service animals has also added confusion," said the 41-page filing requesting comment from James Owens, the department's deputy general counsel.

Meanwhile, the Psychiatric Service Dog Society asked the department in 2009 to recognize a new classification for psychiatric service animals distinct from comfort animals. The group asked the department to stop allowing airlines to require documentation and 48 hours' notice for their animals.

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As the 2005 Manual was covered extensively in Service and Therapy Animals in American Society, I will focus here primarily on how DOT plans to change the Manual. Comments submitted will be available on the site to the general public .

(e) If a passenger seeks to travel with an animal that is used as an emotional support or psychiatric service animal , you are not required to accept the animal for transportation Members of the public may submit written comments on the topics to be considered during the meeting by July 5, 2016.

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"Recently, a few airlines have begun requiring service animal users to provide information about their animal's health and behavior as a condition of travel," the department said.

In January, Delta said its changes came as the airline carried about 250,000 animals last year that were increasingly misbehaving by wandering the cabin, defecating or even biting passengers. A comfort dog bit a passenger in the face while a flight boarded last June.

United's change in February came after a woman tried to bring a peacock with her on a flight. But United began reviewing its policy in 2017 after noticing a jump in comfort animals on flights to 76,000 from 43,000 the year before, and “a significant increase in onboard incidents.”

Starting July 1, American will require passengers to notify the carrier about a comfort animal 48 hours before a flight, and then sign a waiver stating the need for the animal.

In order for an animal to qualify, the passenger must provide a letter from a mental-health professional describing the mental or emotional disability that shows the need for the animal, and proof of the professional’s licensing.

To file a public comment, visit regulations.gov/docket?D=DOT-OST-2018-0068.

Related video: Woman Tries to Board United Flight With Peacock as Comfort Animal (Provided by Newsweek)

American Airlines bans emotional support amphibians, ferrets, goats and more .
First United Airlines barred an emotional support peacock from boarding. Now American Airlines is telling passengers some of their service and emotional support animals - including goats, hedgehogs and tusked creatures - can't fly. The carrier is joining rival airlines in tightening rules for passengers flying with emotional support animals, expanding the list of animals that can't fly in First United Airlines barred an emotional support peacock from boarding. Now American Airlines is telling passengers some of their service and emotional support animals - including goats, hedgehogs and tusked creatures - can't fly.

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