Transportation Department finalizes rule limiting service animals on flights to dogs

Transportation Department finalizes rule limiting service animals on flights to dogs
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The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday issued a final rule limiting service animals on flights to dogs.

Under the rule, a service animal is defined 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.” 

In addition, “carriers are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets,” though "psychiatric service animals" will be treated as service animals. 

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Airlines can require passengers to submit forms attesting to a service animal’s health, behavior and training within 48 hours in advance of the date of travel under the regulation. However, they cannot require passengers traveling with a service animal to check in physically as opposed checking in online. 

The rule also allows airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed or tethered at all times during the flight, and can refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior or pose a threat. 

The rule will take effect in 30 days.

The DOT first proposed the rule in January amid a wave of news stories describing the trend of passengers attempting to bring various exotic species on air crafts for “emotional support.” 

The department said it received more than 15,000 comments on the proposed rule, of which 10,000 were about emotional support animals.