New rules for flying with a service animal in place

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WASHINGTON (WWLP) – If you plan to fly with a service animal within the United States be aware that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has made changes.

The final ruling was made in December 2020 and went into effect on January 11, 2021. It amends the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on traveling by air with service animals. The changes were made to provide safety to all travelers and accessibility to persons with disabilities.

A service animal is defined as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability. It allows airlines to identify emotional support animals as pets and lets them limit one passenger to two service animals. Psychiatric service animals are treated the same as other service animals.

It allows airlines to require forms developed by DOT verifying a service animal’s health, behavior, and training. If taking a long flight, the owner must confirm that the service animal either would not need to relieve itself or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner.

The changes were a response to concerns about animal behavior while on a plane and limited space available.

Additional definitions of a service animal is specified in this document released by the DOT.  Frequently asked questions were also addressed on the final ruling.

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