The U.S. Department of Transportation is cracking down on passengers flying with animals. No longer will emotional support animals be considered service animals. A service animal is defined only as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.”
That means “emotional support” peacocks, pigs and horses will no longer be able to fly. For Kelly Rosenquist and many in the service dog community, the new restrictions come as a welcome change. Rosenquist has been working with her 6-year-old Golden Retriever, Arrow, for five years. He provides pulmonary support.
“He is trained to detect an asthma attack prior to it happening, alert me that it’s going to happen, and bring me my medication,” Rosequist said.
Arrow can also open the fridge on command to retrieve juice for Rosequist, who often deals with hypoglycemia. Rosenquist flies with Arrow several times a year.
“It’s not easy is because of other people or other dogs,” she said.
While her dog is well trained, she almost always encounters problems with other people’s pets.
“There was an emotional support animal sitting across the aisle from us that barked at Arrow for the entire three-hour flight,” she said.
The distractions from un-trained pets don’t allow Arrow to focus on Rosequist’s needs.
“He’s been attacked by another service dog in an airport,” she said.
So, when she heard of the new restrictions, Rosequist was relieved.
When people are bringing their dogs, these fake service dogs, emotional support dogs without any training, it really is taking away from the service dogs that are doing this work,” she said.
“We are excited that there are more laws and regulations to protect legitimate service dogs,” Jenny Castro-Conde said. She works with Rosequist at Dog Training Elite and has her own service dog, Duke.
The new regulations, Castro-Conde said, will weed out those bringing fake emotional support animals who are untrained on flights.
All you really need for an emotional support animal is a patch that says it’s an emotional support animal. A service dog has significantly higher training and obedience and is task trained for something for their person, for something they’ve been diagnosed with specifically,” Castro-Conde said.
Both women agree it will allow their dogs and other legitimate service dogs to do their jobs without distraction.
“It’s going to mean fewer incidents for our service dogs, fewer incidents for the public, fewer incidents in the airport,” Castro-Conde said.
The new regulations will take effect in January. Airlines can now require passengers traveling with service dogs to provide service forms up to 48 hours before their flight. Dog Training Elite will be working with their clients to make sure they know the protocols before flying with their service dogs.
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