Web Exclusive: New rule could ban all emotional support animals from flying on planes, except trained dogs

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. –  The days of passengers bringing their pets on airlines could soon come to an end.

A new rule proposed by the U. S. Department of Transportation would permit airlines to stop accepting “emotional support animals” on planes. If this is passed, only dogs would be allowed as Service animals.

Within the last few years, airports have seen an increase in the number of pets that are brought onto planes. Airlines have complained about websites offering fake certificates for pets, and now they’re questioning some of the animals that people are bringing in.  

“It’s been like Noah’s Ark,” said disabled frequent flier Sharon Giovinazzo.  

Airlines say passengers are going overboard after folks started claiming dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, miniature horses, and even peacocks as their Service animals or emotional support animals. This helps them avoid a $125 pet fee.  

“The dogs and cats would be okay, but all this other stuff I think is a little bit too far out,” said Kelley Foust.  

On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation proposed new rules where:  

  • Emotional support animals would not be service animals.  
  • Only trained dogs to help with a disability would be allowed in passenger cabins.
  • A “psychiatric” Service animal would also require training.  

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Giovinazzo added. “I mean, people are abusing what they consider Service animals.” 

This may be helpful for Giovinazzo. She is blind and has a hearing impairment, so she depends on her Service dog Watson.  

“Stop it, it’s putting people who legitimately need the Service animals to provide a service,” Giovinazzo said. “It’s putting everybody at risk.” 

Watson has had 18 months of training, but it becomes a problem sometimes with other pets. She tells us he has been attacked before by other “emotional support” dogs.  

“It was a distraction and you know, if I would’ve been in a situation where I would’ve been unsafe, it could’ve been. I could’ve gotten seriously hurt,” Giovinazzo continued.  

Giovinazzo also said she thinks more people need to learn why Service dogs are so important to people who really need them. You can face serious penalties if you lie on one of the federal forms.

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