The Department of Transportation (DoT) announced on Wednesday that it would be proposing a significant rule change regarding the use of service animals on flights. The department is currently seeking public comment on the proposed amendments to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which regulates the transportation of service animals by air.
Among the amendments, the DoT seeks to narrow the definition of service animal to only include dogs that have had the proper training.
“The proposed amendments are intended to ensure that our air transportation system is safe for the traveling public and accessible to individuals with disabilities,” according to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published by the DoT.
“Specifically, the Department proposes 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.”
Additionally, the proposal aims to allow emotional support animals to be recognized as pets, and not service animals.
“The NPRM also proposes 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,” according to the DoT.
“In addition, this NPRM would clarify existing prohibitions on airlines’ imposing breed restrictions on service animals and would allow airlines to set policies to limit the number of service animals that one passenger can bring onboard an aircraft.”
Airlines for America, an airline advocacy group, has applauded the DoT’s proposed rule changes regarding Emotional Support Animals, calling it “a positive step in protecting the legitimate right of passengers to travel with a service animal.”
“Airlines want all passengers and crew to have a safe and comfortable flying experience, and we are confident the proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone,” said Nicholas E. Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Traveling by Air with Service Animals will be up for public comment for 60 days.