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1.24.20 – Regulation of Emotional Support Animals

Friday, January 24, 2020

U.S. DOT Steps Up, Seeks to Strengthen Regulation of Emotional Support Animals, and Wants Your Comments Now!

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a proposed rule change that would strengthen the regulations surrounding emotional support animals on our aircraft.

The new rule would supersede the previously proposed rule and would no longer require airlines to automatically allow emotional support animals onboard. Additionally, it would allow airlines to limit service animals to two per passenger and require that they check-in at least one hour before boarding. The rule also defines a service animal as a trained dog and would allow the airlines to require certification of good health and behavior.

If the rule becomes final, it could end the debate over whether untrained emotional support animals deserve the same treatment as fully-trained service animals. The new proposal is a stark departure from the previous guidance the DOT released last August, which APFA believed was wholly inadequate.

The USA Today reported that “complaints from flight attendants and other passengers about the behavior of such animals on board prompted the department to review the policy.” APFA has advocated for stronger emotional support animal regulations in Washington for years – through our lobby days, Congressional testimony, repeated meetings with lawmakers, and interviews with media. We are all fed up and now our voice has finally been heard.

The DOT has opened a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule change. APFA will be drafting official comments but we encourage our members to weigh in as well. APFA receives frequent reports relating to issues with untrained emotional support animals on our aircraft – now the DOT needs to hear from you.

Example: I am an American Airlines Flight Attendant and a member of APFA. Flight Attendants have seen more self-identified emotional support animals brought onboard the airplane than ever before. Emotional support animals are not required to have specialized training and have been known to bite passengers and crew, urinate, defecate, cause allergic reactions, and encroach on the limited space of other passengers. As we transport increasing numbers of emotional support animals, countless new health, safety, and customer service issues have arisen. Please adopt this proposed rule change into law.

Click here for more information.

In unity,

Allie Malis
APFA National Government Affairs Representative

1004 West Euless Boulevard
Euless, Texas 76040

Phone: (817) 540-0108
Fax: (817) 540-2077


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