New 2021 rules for flying with assistance dogs
At the beginning of December 2020 I wrote an article about the final regulation of the Ministry of Transport (DOT) for air travel with service animals. The rule was published in the federal register a few weeks later, clearing the way for it to come into force on Monday, January 11, 2012.
From this day on, passengers have to pay so that their animals can travel with them for emotional support. DOT estimates that airlines with trained service dogs as the only pets allowed in the cabin for free can earn up to $ 59.6 million per year in pet fees.
After receiving over 15,000 comments, the US DOT changed the rules for service animals on airplanes. These new rules for 2021:
• Define a service animal as a dog (no other species) that has been individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
• Stop viewing an animal as a service animal for emotional support.
• Demand that psychiatric service animals be treated the same way as other service animals.
• Allow carriers to request forms to certify animal health, training and behavior.
• Allow airlines to submit these forms 48 hours before the flight.
• Repeat that shippers cannot ban a pedigree (an earlier rule that won’t change).
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Service animal organizations – including the Seeing Eye, which I trained on with my service dog Luna – are happy with certain aspects of the rule, including the definition of the service animal as “dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to work or perform for the benefit of one qualified person with a disability. “
One thing many service dog organizations don’t like about the 2020 decision? The new DOT form, which is required before departure, is seen as an additional burden for the dog handler.
Airlines must have the Service Animal Air Transportation form on their websites, including a version that can be accessed by people using assistive technology – such as the screen reader I use with my laptop to write this article.
Service dog organizations say they will be watching closely as airlines begin to implement the new rule. The DOT can only take action against an airline if individuals exercise their right to lodge a complaint. Qualified service dog handlers who encounter obstacles to air travel – including inaccessible forms – are encouraged to submit a DOT Civil Rights Complaint Form.