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US changes rules for service animals allowed on planes

December 3, 2020

From the National Public Radio website

Julio Cortez/AP photograph from the article

The Department of Transportation said Wednesday it will no longer require airlines to make the same accommodations for emotional support animals as they do for trained service dogs. No more guaranteed free flights for comfort cats and dogs, therapy monkeys or miniature horse companions.

A service dog is trained to do work or perform a task to benefit an individual with a disability. Emotional support and psychiatric service animals function therapeutically. And starting in 2021, it will be up to individual airlines to decide whether or not treat the two the same.

The DOT said complaints by passengers with disabilities, inconsistent service animal definitions, fraudulent representations and animal misbehavior drove the change in policy. Also, disturbances brought about by requests to transport “unusual species of animals onboard aircraft,” have compromised the public trust in recognized service animals, the department said.

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