The U.S. Transportation Department unveiled a series of proposed new rules aimed at cracking down on the types of service animals that passengers can bring with them when they fly. Currently, there is confusion over what constitutes a service animal, and many people claim their pets, including mice, cats, pigs, and in one case, even a peacock, are service animals.
Under the current system, passengers must fill out paperwork ahead of time and have a doctor's note saying their pet is an emotional support animal. While service animals are supposed to be highly trained to assist their owners with a specific disability, there is no formal training for emotional support animals. In addition, it is relatively simple to go online and get your pet certified, even if they lack the proper training.
Many airlines have lobbied the government to strengthen the rules after they have been forced to waive their pet fees for a growing number of passengers who claim their pets are emotional support animals. In addition to the lost fees, airlines have complained that many of the animals are not trained and have created a nightmare for crew members and other passengers.
Under the updated rules, the new definition of service animals would only include dogs that are trained to help a person with a physical or other disability.
"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 Calio, president of Airlines for America.
The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed changes.
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