DOT Proposes Major Restrictions On Emotional Support Animals

Filed Under: Misc.

If the DOT’s latest proposal is put into law, we could see airlines finally banning emotional support animals.

Airlines have already added restrictions on emotional support animals

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen airlines crack down on emotional support animals, as people have increasingly been certifying their pets as such. This is easy enough to do, as for a small cost you can even find a doctor who will certify your pet as an emotional support animal online.

Up until now this has been possible because the US Department of Transportation regulations didn’t really differentiate between service animals and emotional support animals when it came to the law.

That could finally be changing.

DOT proposes emotional support animal changes

The DOT has now opened a period for public comment regarding a new proposal that would lay the framework for airlines to ban emotional support animals.

The US Department of Transportation has issued a Notice of Proposed Lawmaking, and they’re seeking public comment over the next 60 days.

This is in regards to proposed amendments to the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which impacts regulations on the transportation of service animals.

As they’re described, the proposed amendments are intended to ensure that the US air transportation system is safe for the traveling public and accessible to individuals with disabilities.

With this, the DOT is proposing:

  • To define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability
  • To allow airlines to recognize emotional support animals as pets rather than service animals
  • To allow airlines to require all passengers with a disability traveling with a service animal to complete and submit to the airline forms developed by DOT attesting to the animal’s training and good behavior, certifying the animal’s good health, and attesting that the animal has the ability either not to relieve itself on a long flight or to relieve itself in a sanitary manner
  • To clarify existing prohibitions on airlines’ imposing breed restrictions on service animals and allow airlines to set policies to limit the number of service animals that one passenger can bring onboard an aircraft
  • To require service animals to be harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered
  • To add specifics about how to safely transport large service animals in aircraft cabins
  • To allow airlines to charge for damage caused by service animals

The most significant amendments here are that:

  • Emotional support animals would be limited to dogs
  • Airlines could recognize emotional support animals as pets rather than service animals (meaning that if they’re a certain size they might not be allowed in the cabin)

My take on all of this…

There are a countless number of emotional support animal stories that have gone viral, involving everything from pigs to hamsters to snakes.

Has this all gotten a bit out of control? Absolutely.

At the same time, to me this fundamentally brings to light a major topic that no airline has really addressed. Tens of millions of American households have pets and love them. They consider them to be part of the family.

At the same time, most people are scared to check their pets into a cargo hold. If you ask me, it’s even cruel. Airlines have a terrible track record when it comes to transporting pets safely in the cargo hold, and I couldn’t imagine doing that to my dog.

Can any airline acknowledge the fact that people often need to travel with their pet (or at a minimum have a strong preference to do so)?

There has to be a happy medium between putting your animal in the cargo hold and having them fake certified as an emotional support animal, no?

Obviously putting a 100 pound dog underneath an economy seat isn’t ideal. But what if you want to travel with your 25 pound dog? What if you’re willing to buy an extra seat for that dog?

Surely this presents the opportunity for some airline to be at least a little innovative

What do you make of the DOT’s new proposed regulations?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. oh this makes me so happy, i hope this passes into law. tired of seeing all the basic becky’s in the terminal with their ugly lap dogs.

  2. @ I will be shocked if anything changes, but I sure hope it does. I recently met some folks while traveling who were bragging about how they just had to pay $125 for a psych letter and now can take their little dog anywhere on a plane for free. Not cool.

  3. We have a pug and live on the west cost. All of our family (and most friends) are on the east coast. It has been so problematic traveling with a pug, even moving to the west coast resulted in driving because of the dog. The pug cannot be placed in the cargo hold do to breed restrictions and is too large to be an in-cabin dog. I agree that this is an opportunity for the industry to innovate. There should be a way to safely travel with my well behaved dog in cabin.

  4. Yesterday at YYZ I saw a woman with a pug under one arm and a Pomeranian under the other cut into the Nexus line. It’s not generally considered safe to fly with Brachycephalic breeds like pugs at all because they can have breathing issues or their eyes may even pop out! She had no carriers and her husband had a full size carry on, so I don’t know whether she was claiming two ESAs or violating the Air Canada pet policy (pets must be in carriers and they count as your carryon). To top it off, she was wearing a pink velour tracksuit… People just walked past her and refused to let her cut without even acknowledging her, but the shared distain was palpable.

  5. My wife is allergic to cats and dogs, what about her rights? Does she, and everyone else who is allergic to cats and/or dogs have to suffer so that someone can feel better having their pet near them in the plane? Many Americans are absolutely ridiculous when it comes to this topic, and have lost all sense of balance and sanity.

  6. Fingers crossed that they eventually ban them altogether. A lot of people are either (very) scared or allergic to dogs and I can’t imagine that dogs wouldn’t pose a safety threat in an emergency. I might be Lucky’s biggest fan, and I have nothing agains dogs or most other pets, but I really don’t think that a dog belongs outside of a cage in the cabin of a plane.

  7. As someone with allergies to dogs and cats, my rights are every bit as important. Making arrangements for someone to take care of your pets, or perhaps driving instead of flying for a trip, are necessary costs of pet ownership. Everyone else should have the right to avoid animals in places they clearly shouldn’t be, like airplane cabins, due to allergies or whatever other reason.

    With that said, I am all for making every necessary accommodation for those with legitimate service animals. With a small number of those people and animals traveling, it should be reasonable to provide them with necessary benefits that could not be afforded to everyone looking to travel with a pet.

  8. How can I applaud the DOT? This is fantastic news so it ends this BS of people faking and bringing all sorts of animals into the plane. Last week I was on domestic first class behind a guy that had a huge German Shepard on his lap. The dog was quiet for most of the flight but by the end of it the dog became very stressed and was scratching the airplane window like he wanted to get out. He was moving all over and the owner was having a hard time to control the dog and the poor guy sitting next to him was pretty uncomfortable with the entire situation. I don’t think it is fair to other passengers that you suddenly show up to your paid seat and learn you have to travel next to a big animal you don’t know and might not be comfortable in sharing the same space.

  9. This is a problem born out of frustration. There are times when you HAVE to fly with a pet, and some pets can’t fly as cargo or would die of fright doing so, and a pet owner has to figure out how to get their animal on a plane, so they have few options but to get some fake credentials so they can fly. If airlines would come up with a safe, effective way to transport pets then this wouldn’t be an issue, but so far that hasn’t happen so people have had no choice but to go rogue. Pet parents shell out LOTS of money for their animals, and are accustomed to having to pay big fees to own their dog, so charge them something, even something slightly ridiculous, and they will pay it! It’s also good business because pet owners are very loyal and will treat the company well that treats them well. In apartment buildings that allow pets the tenant turnover of pet owners is MUCH less than non pet owners, because they know how difficult it can be to move with a pet so they stay put, and stable tenants are very good for rental companies, not to mention the extra fees they get to charge pet owners. If airlines realized this then they could rake in some of that pet owner cash too and all would be happy.

  10. OMG this is amazing! I used to fly a lot more than I do now and I can’t remember ever being sat next to a service animal. However, I always ask myself where is it supposed to sit? There is barely enough room for the human passengers on the plane let alone something that sits near your feet. Honestly, people need to leave there pets at home. Taking pets out in public especially to airports and restaurants is unnecessary. (Let’s be honest it’s mainly dogs.)

  11. Can’t happen fast enough. Unless you are like blind or have another severe condition and need a service dog I really don’t have much sympathy. Leave the pets at home. This emotional support nonsense is way out of control. If you can’t fly without some animal then maybe you have no business being on a plane to start with. I’m all for legislation that would help insure the safety of animals in a cargo area, but most animals simply do not belong in the cabin. People who engage in fraud to skirt the rules around transportation of animals deserve to be kicked off the plane. Please don’t try to justify fraud.

  12. I’m really surprised that an airline hasn’t come up with a pet cabin in the plane, with some sort of kennels to hold dogs, large cats, etc. I have a corgi that I would never put in cargo! (To be honest, I’d never fly with a dog anyway.)

  13. This only seems to be a problem with the US. Qantas have very specific guidelines for allowing service animals onboard (eg need to be trained by an approved organisation). Never seen them in Asia either. As an aside there are many companies who will arrange transportation of an animal for your. I understand from my friends they are $$$$$ but really good – these are expats who have sent their animals from from Australia, US, Europe to Asia.
    Will passengers who don’t want to sit next to animal get the opportunity to select this an option on a flight (for free)?

  14. I think a large number of the ESA owners aren’t just trying to get around the cargo hold. they’re trying to get around paying for a pet sitter to visit.

  15. Has nobody twigged to the fact that paying to board the animal at a reputable kennel for the duration of the trip can cost way more than the air fare? A fake emotional support certificate is a bargain and can be used for multiple trips so no wonder they are rampant.

    Whatever happened to common-sense?

  16. “The most significant amendments here are that: Emotional support animals would be limited to dogs”

    Service animals.

  17. Finally a government agency doing something that makes sense and doesn’t put the feelings of an entitled few over common sense of the many. I can no longer enjoy a snack of peanuts on a plane because you might have an allergy but you can bring your cat which will cause me to break out in hives and start sneezing and wheezing and it is too bad for me because it is your fake emotional support animal. A professionally trained and certified service DOG is totally fine and understandable but if your pet is that important you can drive or stay home.

  18. I’m a dog parent that considers my dog as part of family. We travel quite a bit and have never flown with our dog. There just isn’t a circumstance where you HAVE TO fly with your pet. It’s narcissistic people who choose to because they want to. I’m fine banning all animals on planes with the exception of seeing eye dogs.

  19. If is a safety problem to keep a small backpack anywhere other than the overheard for takeoff and landing, why is it not a safety hazard to keep a live animal in your row??

  20. Good. If you don’t want to put your pet in the heated and pressurized cargo hold. The either board your pet or hire a sitter.

  21. I really don’t like the idea of traveling with pets and I can only tolerate carrying pets on board when they are kept in fully-enclosed containers. Call me cold-blooded but I find the need to play with pets in flights or, more broadly speaking, during trips, to be ridiculous.

  22. This is a great development, was just reading about a woman with epilepsy and other issues that has a legitimate service animal that is trained and certified and her flight experience
    An emotional support dog came on board , straining at the leash and attacked her service dog. Her dog was shaken from the event and missed a seizure alert and she was thrown from her seat from her seizure.

    Everyone thinks their dog is well trained and the best , I know I do, but to travel for hours in a sealed metal tube with hundreds of other people in a cramped space, we need legitimate service dogs only for the safety of everyone on board

  23. This is such a ridiculous case of entitlement.

    @Lucky – having a small dog doesn’t magically put you (or anyone) into a special class that should be allowed to travel with their pets. What about people who are allergic? Or how about people who simply don’t want to hear barking (the worst of which is almost always caused by small dogs, by the way) for hours on end?

    As a pet owner myself I completely “get” loving your pets and treating them like a member of the family. But I also understand that me loving my dogs doesn’t mean 200 other people in a very confined space would have the same feeling. I also “get” that animals can be unpredictable — even those who are usually docile. For these reasons I never have and would never consider traveling with my animals.

    The “happy medium” you’re searching for would be simply staying home and spending time with your four-leggeds there. To ask for anything else that is not truly a service dog situation is nothing more than an example of an “I’m special and rules/common sense don’t apply to me” mentality.

  24. I’m a hard core animal lover who is thrilled that I’ve got a cat sitter that charges a reasonable price for keeping an eye on my cats when I’m out of town. The cats are infinitely more happy staying in a place they find to be comfortable and secure than they would be if I slapped a fake ESA vest on them and took them with me through very stressful airport conditions.

  25. Lucky,

    There is a happy medium between bringing the dog on to your seat and the cargo hold. It’s called a kennel. There are plenty of great pet spas and the like these days. Either you are comfortable with that or you drive to your destination. In a cramped shared space its not always about me, me, me.

  26. Absolutely need restrctions..Abuse is rampant…so easy to get a certificate. Example of a reasonable law abused to such a degree that even supportive public has gone sour.. Same restrictions should be allowed for ‘not pet’ condominium as the same law is abused to get your pet in. ENOUGH.

  27. Thank you DOT for level headed thinking! This will give those who absolutely need a service dog specifically trained do a task to mitigate a disability much more credibility.
    It will also make air travel safer for all. There is no egress at 30,000 feet if an animal misbehaves, a person gets bit, or if a passenger has a serious allergic reaction. It means I will no longer feel like I’m playing Russian roulette with my health every time I fly, as canine dander triggers my asthma. Kudos to Delta for reseating us on a recent flight away from an ESA (or a pet lapdog?) on a recent flight. This was no service dog, as it did not behave like one in the boarding area.

  28. People who want to travel with animals have cars trains and boats. Sorry airplanes are not for animals

  29. I can never understand why people that supposedly care about their pets would even bring it on the plane… cramped up in a tiny chair probably scared out of its mind… I cant imagine it wouldnt be happier at home where it can run around, get water, be comfortable.

  30. Changes in the current policy are long overdue. Don’t the fliers have some rights? Reading this as I’m sitting in an airplane. The man right across from me has a carrier with 2 cats inside on the floor in front of him. My spouse is highly allergic to cats and is now sitting 10 rows away. If I hadn’t asked what was in the carrier and found out it was cats we would never have known. Not okay in my book. The man was nice but he said he was transporting them for a friend. How are they considered emotional support dogs?

  31. @RCB

    There is only one time you HAVE to fly with a pet. That’s if you are moving overseas.

    Other than that you have plenty of options. Check the animal into the cargo hold, board them or hire a sitter or if they must get to a new place, domestically, drive.

  32. I have brought my cat with me on Jet Blue from Boston to West Palm Beach for 12 years. I am a Vietnam combat veteran who suffers bouts of depression and anxiety. My cat helps me because I am lonely. She settles right down and I give her a treat when the crew brings around some potato chips and ginger ale. I go to the VA for therapy and take medicine. I don’t think I could safely drive my car from NH anymore. But I won’t leave her home. I saved her and she saved me.

  33. I personally really enjoy seeing dogs when I fly. I’ve seen some fairly large golden doodles, bernese mountain dogs, english pointers, labs, receivers, etc. They were are all adorable and well-behaved. They have better manners than many passengers.

    I think a reasonable solution might be to require people to purchase additional seats or a row for larger pets. This would provide ample space for the animal away from other passengers.

    People love their pets. Many would happily spend more to safely transport their pet than they would for themselves. Why airlines have not found out a way to take advantage of this puzzles me?

    If the industry can figure out how work showers and “apartment” suites into their cabins, they could certainly figure out a better solution for animals. Imagine “owner+pet” suites or seating blocked off with curtains.

  34. Emotional Support Animals are a symbol of why the world thinks Americans are crazy. They are not allowed anywhere else in the world and are a frankly ridiculous accommodation to selfish people.

  35. nearly all of these proposals violate the spirit and letter of the ADA. you can’t require documentation for service animals. the whole point of the ADA is to streamline access for persons with disabilities, requiring certification and documentation is the exact opposite.

  36. also: 99% of the people commenting here are totally lame. get a life. get a grip. holy smokes. just brutal, miserable louts.

  37. I’m not a dog hater. But for people arguing that some dogs HAVE TO fly and airlines MUST accommodate them: flying is not a right, therefore airlines shouldn’t have to find a way to get your dogs to whatever important family functions you want them to attend.

  38. Two weeks ago I flew from Paris to Miami on AA and the first bulkhead row in economy had 3 dogs with the second bulkhead in the second cabin having another 2. Boarding was so fun, especially watching people realizing the cute furball mats under them. And they were really big dogs.

  39. The money statement.

    “Surely this presents the opportunity for some airline to be at least a little innovative…”

    Get the government completely out of the equation and let airlines i.e. free markets sort it out.

  40. I certify that my service animal is trained relive itself inflight on a flight over 8 hours in a sanitary manner . . . into Lucky’s champagne glass . . . OK to fly?

  41. My solution is economical.
    Allow anyone to pay for as many seats with whatever purpose they want, as they want. This would solve obese and too tall people. This would solve pets.

    I am willing to pay 1000s dollars to bring my PTSD dog with me.

    This new rule considering trained animals as pets is nonsense.

    Why dont airlines mark flights as pet friendly and no pets allowed. That way allergic people can buy the latter, and those with pets can pay extra and be happy.

    In a world with so many jobs globalized is non sensical to put restrictions like these.

  42. Imagine a plane has a fire and makes an emergency landing.
    Time is of the essence to quickly evacuate and minimize injury and death by sliding down the chutes.
    What is the outcome if howling aggressive nervous dogs are blocking the aisles making it difficult for the passengers to get to the chutes?

    Hopefully we will have stringent rules and avoid this disastrous scenario.

  43. I have relocated intercontinentally with cats. There was no option other than air transport. Pets in cargo are kept in special temperature and pressure controlled compartments, they are not mixed in with general cargo. I have also travelled intercontinentally with a cat in the cabin with me. For me, I much prefer relocating them via cargo than in the cabin. Whether or not their owner is with them is a small part of the equation, because they are also surrounded in the cabin with hundreds of strangers and weird smells. The stress must be so much worse in the cabin. It’s also a bit harder on the human!

  44. I like the proposal. I love dogs and I own one. But I don’t have a fake ESA patch and phony certification that I bought online. I have an airline approved carrier and my dog goes under the seat in front of me.

    The airlines thought want it both ways. They charge $150 each way to bring a dog in a carrier on board, and you give up the right to your own carry on luggage, even in the upper classes. My dog take ZERO SPACE from any other passenger and requires ZERO accommodation from anyone except me. Why does it cost extra then? Because the airlines are greedy. It costs them NOTHING. That’s why all this started. People got sick of paying $300 on top of their already expensive tickets and found a way around it. Lower the price even to $50 each way (which is still gouging) and there’d be a lot less phony ESA cheats and the airlines I bet would increase their revenue.

  45. I agree with Lucky here. There must be some middle ground. Allowing airlines to classify them as pets defeats the purpose-they might as well not have the classification. While there are some legitimate cases, the system is woefully misused. At least make a proper certification process rather than forcing people to have their animals “certified” on their own and through private entities. Rather than an all out ban, the DOT, at a minimum, should increase restrictions and make the qualifications crystal clear. And I don’t see how only allowing dogs as ESAs makes sense. I understand if size is an issue such as a miniature horse on the loose, but instead shouldn’t there be just a plain weight restriction?! Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction if not the best way of solving this problem.

  46. As others have stated, we have gone way overboard. Many airlines have removed peanuts because of allergies, but somehow animals are allowed. My wife has severe allergies to most animals, especially cats and dogs. Why is she a second-class citizen when on a flight? If we bring to a flight attendant’s attention that there is an animal nearby and my wife is allergic, they offer to move US. We booked early, chose our seats, but WE should move because of the animal, not to mention that that does not provide any assurance that she will not be affected by the animal dander circulated through the plane. We are talking about a human’s health and even potential death, but the animal is allowed to stay. Love your dogs, but leave them home!

  47. When will PETA ban pets.
    Owing pets is nothing but animal torture. How would you feel being captive in a confined space. You might have good food and shelter but you still lack your freedom.

    No pets no ESA, problem solved.
    Leave the animals in the wild. Let nature take care of them.

    Until there is a Dr.Doolitle who runs an airline, animals should br grounded, like nature design them.

    P.S. Service animal is not a pet and should be considered as an equipment like riding horses.

  48. My wife jokes that we should get a little vest for me and a phony certificate: if I’m her emotional support animal, I can fly for free!

    Oh, I also find it reassuring to have my kids close by: let’s get little vests for them, too. Hey, don’t judge! My Dad’s a Vietnam vet and I have refractory PTSD, see.

    It is breathtaking how selfish some people can be: the abusers of ESA/disability certification are robbing the blind, the deaf, and the maimed heroes of past wars so they can cheaply transport their pets.

  49. @eskimo peta is not a government organisation. Many “ pets “ are part of the family so the name pet is not really correct It’s like having a child and they should be treated as such
    They are Domesticated animals

    What pack of freedom?

    Would you set Dachshunds free to live in the wild ?

    The issue regarding emotional support animals is almost entirely an American one

    When was the last time you heard about an issue with a non-American passenger ?

  50. I find it interesting that they are using the ADA rulings stating only dogs can be used as service animals, when 2010 revisions state that specifically trained miniature horses can be considered service animals in the eyes of the law as long as they have been trained for a specific task, house broken, etc. Since this is part of the laws they are using to make distinctions, should they not include this type of service animal as well?
    As a side note, mini horses are alternate options for those who need a service animal but are allergic or have a religious reason for the alternate. They are usually 3 ft tall and 70 to 105 lb.

  51. I have an ESA -small 4 pound dog -I have anxiety and hate hate to fly -borderline panic I think plane will crash. Every time I travel with my dog I have to fill out ESA required paperwork (at my cost $300) – health certificate, dog behavioral evaluation, mental evaluation (passenger) plus grooming. She is my life saver -I keep her in my lap at ALL times under my blanket. Never had an issue but really comes down to been a responsible dog owner. I hope airlines take ESA seriously-I don’t mine regulations but will hate for them to take ESA away.

  52. People need to educate themselves -(Last time I flew) ESA is not free anymore -no ticket yes but you have to pay for health certificate, mental evaluation, behavioral form (no fee), and grooming.
    Needs to be legit !! But saying no ESA is the same as mental disease is in your head !!! Snap out of it !!

  53. People have to learn again that decisions have consequences, and you can’t have your cake and eat it. It is well known that travelling long distances with dogs is difficult and stressful for the dog. If you travel a lot and have no good place where you could leave a dog, don’t get a dog. If you think you absolutely need a dog and don’t want to put it in the cargo hold and have no one to leave it with, don’t take long trips. Don’t create your personal problem by getting a pet, and then expect society to fix it for you.

  54. Sometimes I need to travel for work. When I do, I’m usually on location for a month or longer.

    Thanks to a car accident last year, I can’t drive as far or often due to being partially disabled. I had my six-pound allergy-free dog before the car accident, and I used to enjoy our drives.

    How many people want to leave their pets at a sitter for a month or longer?

    Would you want to drive around the country after receiving permanent disabilities from a car accident?

    Should I just get rid of my pet because I’m disabled now? Bye-bye fluffy, it’s been nice.

    Not everyone with an ESA is lying,
    but hey, thanks for letting us know how you really feel.

    At least I’m still trying to work, pay my taxes, my mortgage, and take care of my pet. I’m not sitting on my a** collecting disability, even though I could.

  55. Amazing! Congrats to the DOT for finally having some common sense. Hire a pet sitter or use a kennel if you don’t want your pet to travel in the hold.

    I love animals, but not in aircraft cabins. This is an issue NOWHERE else outside the USA, the rest of the world has long been far more sensible about this.

  56. We may have crossed too far to the other side on this one. This is not the spirit of the ADA. Anyway, plenty of people with dogs/cats that are small enough will just pay the $125 airline fee and carry on their animals.

  57. Claus +1

    “I have relocated intercontinentally with cats. There was no option other than air transport”

    No, there were lots of options: don’t relocate intercontinentally; or find someone else to look after your cats (cats really don’t care about you. The “love” you feel is entirely in your own head); or travel overland and then by sea (there are still lots of ocean-going cargo ships which offer full passenger services).

    No, what you mean is that you have decided to do what you want, and now everyone else should accommodate you.

    @Alixia Prader
    “ mini horses … are usually 3 ft tall and 70 to 105 lb.”

    Really? You think a 3’ tall animal weighing >100lbs should be carried on someone’s lap or tucked under the seat in front?? How is that good for the animal, let alone the poor people stuck next to it?

    “Can any airline acknowledge the fact that people often need to travel with their pet”

    Need? You *need* oxygen to reach your brain or you will die. You don’t *need* to travel with your pet, any more than you *need* to travel with a baby. You are choosing to do so. Neither the pet (nor the baby) has the slightest desire to get on a plane. It’s entirely about what you want. Conversely, both babies and (most) animals will experience stress and discomfort on a plane. Why would you voluntarily put your cute little dog through that?

    If it’s a working service animal then fine. But your lifestyle choices should not extend to causing distress to your animal or inconvenience to other passengers or airlines.

    If you can’t bear to leave your pet behind — don’t travel. It’s a responsibility you took on when you chose to get the animal.

  58. Irritation with those who abuse the policy shouldn’t turn into a trivialization of chronic mental illness as a disability worthy of treatment and accommodation. The problem is the lack of standardized training and certification for ESAs compared with traditional service dogs. I’d say it’d be better to change the regulations to deal with the actual problem. Owners of genuine ESAs should have no issue putting their animal through a certified training course, while families looking to bring their pet would be put off.

    It’d be awesome if airlines had a more trustworthy record of pet transportation, but we’re talking about companies that treat their human passengers as self-loading cargo. We’ve seen the pictures of how they treat actual cargo.

  59. A pet, however the owner puts it, is a piece of property. It is not a human being.
    There is simply no reason pets cannot be put in cargo hold. If you are worried about a pet being damaged or destroyed, then you might try getting an insurance for it. It is what other people with valuable cargo (many of them worth much more than a pet, with emotional attachment sometimes – think of a Stradivarius for a violinist) do. If the risk of carrying your property is not worth it, then leave at home, and hire a caretaker. Plain and simple.

    There are people who hold much more expensive property, which they absolutely need to travel with as part of their job or for other reasons (think of orchestra travelling abroad – they are no longer an orchestra without instruments), and they don’t complain about putting their properties in cargo hold. Pet owners should stop thinking they should have privileges that no other people have.

  60. Wow! The comments section at DOT should prove to be really interesting, if the comments here are anything to go by….. I’ll take a well-behaved 10 lb dog over a screaming three year-old in First Class with affluenza any day.

  61. Sophia –

    I’m confused. You are disabled? Yet you still have work assignments on the road for one month at a time? And you need to bring your pet with you?

    And yes – you should get rid of your dog. Or your job.

    Also there is no such thing as an “allergy free dog”.

  62. @Jay out of RKSI You can call pets property if you would like, but they do have beating hearts and organs, the Violin doesn’t. That’s all.

  63. I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, beautifully behaved who travels on my lap and does not bother anyone. I had to certify her as an ESA dog because dogs over 11 inches tall are not allowed to fly under seat in carrier and this breed is not allowed to fly in cargo because it could die. I am wheelchair bound and travel and stay at my destination for 3 months. I cannot drive across the country as I have poor vision. If airlines would come up with a solution where I could pay for a seat and have my dog fly on the floor in front of that seat, I would be happy to pay the fee. I am an old widow who depends on my dog for my health and happiness….Please come up with some viable solution to this problem

  64. @Mike L
    So it’s a piece of property that have live organs. In all jurisdictions known to this civilisation, animals owned by a person is a piece of property, just as stuff owned by a person is. It’s not just I like it that way – it’s the law!

  65. What about people moving one way to a new home from the mainland to Hawaii? If the airlines gave two shits they would do something about “cargo pet holds”. If I didn’t think my dog would die in cargo I’d consider it. Don’t even go down the “what about my rights issue” it swings two ways.

  66. It seems that everyone here thinks having a mental disability like PTSD, severe anxiety, and panic attacks is a joke and doesn’t exist. I have all of them, and in a plane it’s only increased. I was FORCED (note, if I had the choice to drive or ride a train or boat, I would have over a flying metal death trap) to fly from Guam to Florida to relocate. I shipped all of my pets VIA cargo except one; my ESA cat Leya. She was quiet and calm the whole trip, and made 0 messes. She kept me calmer than flying with my mother ever did. By focusing on HER needs, I was about to NOT overly focus on where I was and the endless possibilities of what could go wrong. I did the forms properly, even having my therapist sign the forms and I had to show her Leya and she had to meet her and everything before she agreed. Yes, people are taking advantage of the system, but you shouldn’t punish those who ACTUALLY NEED it!

  67. I believe a social disability is real. But let’s be real here. How many of these so called disabled mentally challenged people really have what is called emotional disability? I’ll go on a limb here and guestimate that less than 20% of world population is proven to have this disability. I know right. Ok let’s be over fair and say 50%! Pushing now. So how is it that this disability isn’t called out of control co-dependency? This is what it really is for what ever people think it is. Meds would work better in public travel than a flea bitten barking mutt. Not that I have a problem with dogs or cats. I don’t but just like dope dealers whom think they are ok doing their sales and share of murders around the world to make a buck. It doesn’t make it right. No more than a disability emotional wrecked person thinking it’s ok to bring their pets everywhere bothering all those who are for sure allergic to these animals medically proven to cause some to be hospitalized. Do they seem to care? Not really. So why the fuck should I care about their inability to contain their emotional bullshit pet toting idiotic ways. Go see a therapist and stop what ever it is you think is working and get real help. Disability says they can do this at almost no charge. So why a pet that cost more money to keep in more way than one. That to me and millions think is very retarded to say the least. Codependency is just that. You need to control something because your ass is out of control.
    Well there’s my take on all this crap. Emotional service animal. Hmmmm! Sure why not? Bullshit!

  68. My husband is a survivor of 9-11 & has developed severe anxiety when flying since that horrific day. We have a small 15lb shih Tzu who has traveled with us & is never an issue. She is registered, certified & self trained by us with the use of a professional. We worked with our Doctor to help us obtain an ESA. Unfortunately, this new ruling will hinder our travels with our pet in cabin which defeats the purpose of her helping my husband travel!

  69. My husband is a survivor of 9-11 & has developed severe anxiety when flying since that horrific day. He often has nightmares, jumps at loud noises & has stated not a day goes by that he doesn’t remember that day. We have a small 15lb Shih Tzu who has traveled with us & is never an issue. She is registered, certified & self trained by us with the use of a professional. We worked with our Doctor to help us obtain an ESA. Unfortunately, this new ruling will hinder our travels with our pet in cabin which defeats the purpose of her helping my husband travel! We would be willing to pay for an extra seat , however the airlines do not allow that. Since she is a small dog she sits in between the two of us and most people don’t even realize their is a do on board until they see her. She doesn’t bark, cry or relieve herself while in flight. The people who purchase online Doctor letters are the ones who have abused the system not to mention ponies, peacocks, snakes etc. So before you knock an ESA pet & accuse people of being selfish think twice !

  70. I am very allergic to cats and dogs, my right to breath is more important than the need for you to fly with your pets. As a pet owner you can make other arrangements for your pets I am not able to control my allergy other than with an Epi-pen. In the very rare case of a true seeing eye dog, I will ask to be moved if the plane is big enough to get safely away from it or get off the plane but when you get on a plane these days it is like a zoo sometimes and this needs to be addressed for the safety of people like me and for the general public as the stories abound about the issues. Leave your pet at home! We have a hampster and make arrangements for him, not taking him with us.

  71. For all of those that “have” to travel with your pet…

    I’m curious – why you are choosing a vacation that you need to fly to? When airlines outlaw ESA’s – choose a closer location. Simple as that.

    I have no pity at all for those that need to fly with ESA’s. Mankind did just fine enough for thousands of years not flying. Flying is a privilege, not a right.

  72. I always purchase the entire row anytime i fly with my Goldendoodle. I would happily do so even at a premium. I live on the road my dog is the only family I have. Why can’t we find a way to meet in the middle here? It’s a revenue opportunity for the airlines as well. Maybe make some off peak flights, pet friendly and require people to buy a an extra seat or row if they want to travel with their dog- In addition to the usual vet and personal liability requirements.

  73. i Rather sit next to a dog then a bad ass KID that their parents have no control of and dumb people like the ones that are writing stupid comments here.

  74. @Bpg123 First of all, do you understand the requirements of ANY pet traveling by plane? First, they have to go to the vet and get all their vaccinations updated. Second, they need to be microchipped. Third, they are dewormed AND given required FLEA MEDICATION. Then you PAY for a Health Certificate signed by the vet and anyone else required that the pet in question is in good health and is vaccinated with everything the airlines require. And that is for both in cabin as an ESA and by cargo; because trust me, I did it all. And guess what, those of you who are “allergic”. I sat next to a woman who stated she was allergic, and I offered to move, but she was thankfully ok with my ESA cat. And get this; she was surprised she had 0 reactions, despite being squished right next to me. Yes, I know that not everyone would be ok with that nor not have an allergic reaction. A question I had to answer my therapist was “What will you do if someone next to you is allergic or hates animals?” (which quite a few here seem to hate animals) I replied: “I will ask them if they are allergic, and then if they are, ask the flight attentant to move me to a seat with someone who is not. The same thing for someone who does not want to sit next to someone with a quiet cat in their lap.” Once I answered this question, putting her licence on the line, she signed the forms Untied requires to be filled out for an ESA. I made sure every I was not a bother in any way I could, because being forced to fly was already stressful enough, I didn’t want to jeopardize my ability to bring the one thing that could calm me for those long hours. I am disgusted with how many people believe mental disability or illness does not exist nor that it deserves the same concern and regard as physical disability. Until you have experienced what I have, to be debilitated due to anxiety to such an extreme that you become ill or cannot move or have a sensitivity to light and to feel so terrible you actually cry at being so overwhelmed, then you have NO SAY or opinion on mental disability. And for your information @Bpg123, most cases are undiagnosed, mainly because most go under-reported and of course under-diagnosed. Refer to this article for more information: I am what my therapist referred to as “highly functioning”, which means that from the outside I can seem normal, but if I become too stressed I can have a panic attack and essentially “break”. I have learned some coping mechanisms for my issues, but there is by no means a “cure”. There never will be. I have tried drugs, but they only treat the symptoms; not the core issues. My cat Leya, breathing exercises, and such help a bit, but it never goes away; it never will. And that’s what sucks about mental disabilities. Just like physical ones, they never go away. Never

  75. To Amy H – so I gather a pet underneath the seat in a crate doesn’t bother you, so it must be in your head.
    TO I0090 – Like everyone else we like to see our Grandchildren during the Holidays its much eaiser to fly then drive 3 days.

  76. Everyone here fails to realize Mental Depression is real, as well as severe anxiety. Those of us who follow the regulations like having our pets certified for health by a vet, all shots up-to-date & a certified letter that our ESA dog is parasite free & healthy. Then we have to work with a doctor which we did not to mention register & certified our ESA. It is my legal rights to bring an ESA pet on an airplane. I think those of us on here need to process a group action lawsuit against the DOT to protect our rights. Those of you allergic to animals I guess your not allergic when the animal is in a crate underneath the seat. I’d rater sit next to a animal instead of a crying screaming child or a person whose body enters my seat. DOT you are making a serious mistake you have opened yourself up for lawsuits!

  77. Fran,
    Actually, yes it does bother me as I can tell without seeing an animal that it is on the plane as soon as a get close to it. I have been allergy tested and have a 5 out of 5 for both cats and dogs. Can prove it and it is documented in my medical chart. Allergies are a serious life-threatening situation for many. I have difficulty breathing and get hives on my face and body when I am in contact with pet dander. If it is a small plane I get off if it is a 747 I can ask to be moved and usually do ok. A mask is not the answer as the dander gets on my skin and causes issues. I have even had to move once because I had a reaction and the stewardess said there was an animal in my row on the last flight.

  78. @Kera. Not one word in your diatribe refers to a fellow passenger sitting next to cat Lena having a fatal allergic reaction. Your situation is concerning and I wish you the best but I think prioritizing your emotional needs over another person’s death is OUTRAGEOUS. This ESA rubbish is recent; the phenomenon did not exist 20 years back on US airlines and, everywhere else, ESA requests get short shrift.

  79. For the person that said « There just isn’t a circumstance where you HAVE TO fly with your pet. » ; what about when you move in another country?
    I recently moved from Los Angeles to Paris. And I have 2 small dogs. And I am so happy that I was able to bring them in the plane with us. They are old and I wasn’t feeling good about putting them in cargo. I do understand that some people don’t like dogs, are allergic, or simply don’t want to be sitting next to a dog for hours. I do think there should be a way to make sure that no one is sitting next to a dog if they don’t want to. Maybe they could put a question when you book your ticket about that. (Like : would you mind to be sitting next to an animal). I would never put my dogs in cargo for a 12hours flight. That’s forsure… those little things are like my kids. I’m following this from close and hoping this law isn’t gonna happen!

  80. @Indopithecus – You obviously did not read my comment did you? I mentioned that I asked anyone on my row if they were ok with me sitting next to them with a cat and if they were allergic; and if so I would ask the stewardess to move me. They have their needs and I and anyone else who ACTUALLY has a need for an ESA have our needs. Mental illness is a real thing and death CAN come from it. Such as suicide, or worse. Someone could snap. Every person is different, and this bill would discriminate against even those who use miniature horses for tasks, such as the blind woman in this article, and yes, ALL ESAs. Considering the new legislation regarding restrictions to ESAs was literally JUST changed (as in they can’t be restricted to 8 hour or less flights) this coming about after that seems like the DOT’s way to try and combat the new rules by the Americans With Disablities Act. Which, by the way, didn’t exist in medieval times when smoking on planes was allowed too.

  81. My cat is barely 8lbs and is well behaved in a carrier under my seat for the whole duration of my flight. Why should I have to change my flying habits because of this ban? It makes sense to regulate this issue but to ban all ESAs or force an extra ticket is ridiculous.

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