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This week the US Department of Transportation released their final ruling regarding service animals on airplanes. A service animal is defined as a dog, regardless of breed or type, 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.
DOT determined that carriers are not required to recognize emotional support animals (ESA’s) as service animals and may treat them as pets. While the rules may vary carrier to carrier, this means that the protections afforded those with ESA’s will no longer be valid. Instead, they will most likely have to pay a fee to bring their re-classified pet aboard an aircraft.
CertaPet released this statement:
“Today a statement was released by the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding emotional support animals on flights. The DOT has decided that emotional support animals will not be considered service animals and will be considered “pets” at this time. This ruling will go into effect 30 days after being published in the Federal Register.
We at Certapet think this is a great disservice to those facing mental health challenges that get emotional support from their animal. We understand that there have been incidents that have discredited emotional support animals and the service they provide, but those situations could be prevented by increased regulation. We think emotional support peacocks are ridiculous too. Providing clear guidelines for certification and vetting companies in the industry would have been simple steps to solve this challenge for all stakeholders. Certapet is a trusted telehealth platform that has been providing real mental health services for many years. These imposter companies exploiting individuals with mental health issues should be penalized.
Eliminating emotional support animals all together is a quick, cheap fix that disregards those who really need and use the treatment appropriately. The DOT has chosen the easy and harmful path over the correct one. We hope to have continued discussions with airlines as they make choices on their own company policies and encourage them to make the right decisions. Mental health is a serious issue and removing access to a researched and proven treatment is a disgrace.”
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